Hendrickson completes first season at Menlo

Brian WilkinsonFebruary 13, 2013 

Grant Hendrickson recently completed his sophomore year playing football for the Menlo College Oaks, a private business college in Antherton, just north of Stanford University. It was his first year playing football, after "redshirting" his freshman year.

The 2011 Yosemite High graduate and all North Sequoia League Lineman of the Year, saw action on the offensive line during the Oaks 4-6 season. He started two games at offensive guard mid-way through the season and filled-in on the line during the balance of the up-down season for the Oaks.

The team started the season 4-1, racking up 192 points on offense with wins over the University of British Columbus (28-13), Pomona-Pitzer (41-13), Occidental (55-6) and LaVerne (59-13) and the loss to Linfield 30-9. In the four wins, the team averaged almost 46 points a game and was ranked No. 22 in the nation at the time for National Association Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) teams.

Starting out the year, the 6-foot-4, 250 pounder was playing defensive line and just before the first game of the year the coaching staff moved him to offensive line as they had no depth there. Hendrickson backed up the tackle position and through the first three games filled in for injuries. Going into the fourth game of the year Speckman said Hendrickson was the team's best guard and "we don't even play him there."

Line coaches then moved him to offensive guard and worked one-on-one with him to get him up to speed for his first start against La Verne. The Oaks rolled to a 59-13 win and a team single game rushing record of 492 yards. At this point in the season, the Oaks were 4-1 and ranked No. 22 amongst NAIA teams in the nation.

The victories would be the only four during the season as the team lost its next five games to ranked teams -- Webber International (14-9), Delaware's Wesley College (30-13), Indiana's Marian College (34-7), Saint Francis College (31-21) and Pacific Lutheran (38-21). Wesley College finished the season No. 6 in the nation in NCAA Division III, Marian College was No. 1 NAIA team in the nation, Saint Francis was in the NAIA top 25 and Pacific Lutheran was a national play-off contender in Division III.

The game against Saint Francis was in Hendrickson's place of birth, Joliet, Ill.

Menlo was led by first year coach Mark Speckman, who was a linebacker for Menlo in the early 70s when the school was a two-year college. After two years, Speckman transferred to Azusa Pacific University where he earned NAIA All-American second team honors. He drew national media attention as the 'handless linebacker,' having been born with no hands.

He was a successful high school coach at Livingston and Merced in the late 80s and early 90s.

Speckman spent 14 years as the coach at NCAA Division III Willamette University in Salem, Ore. where he had a 82-59 record. Under his guidance, Willamette won five conference championships, five national play-off berths and a 1997 national championship game appearance.

"Grant is such a versatile player and filled needs at both guard and tackle positions this season," Speckman said. "Depending on how our recruiting goes, we could play Grant either at defensive line or offensive line next year."

Hendrickson, who is majoring in international business, is attending Menlo on a partial academic scholarship.

Speckman's key message to his players is about reaching your full potential. His biggest challenge in playing football was getting someone to tie his shoes as this is one thing he cannot do.

Menlo just moved from the NCAA Division III to the NAIA and wants to compete at the national level and felt Speckman was the coach to do it. Coach Speckman is regarded as an authority on the 'fly offensive' and the 'fly sweep' that is used at all levels of football.

Although Menlo finished the season at 4-6, they now have gauged themselves against some of the top NAIA teams in the country and will work on filling in the pieces to make them competitive nationally.

Yosemite High JV football coach Pat Lynch played for the North in the 1987 North South All Star game under Speckman while he was coach for Livingston. Lynch recalls that the coach with no hands could write on the chalk board and throw a football well.

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