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Michigan State safety Xavier Henderson will return for 2022 season

The undisputed captain of the defense will take advantage of the extra year of eligibility in the 2022 season.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 02 WKU at Michigan State Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Senior safety Xavier Henderson has been a mainstay of the Michigan State Spartans’ secondary for the past four years. On Thursday, Henderson announced via twitter that his playing days in East Lansing are not quite finished. Henderson joined junior wide receiver Jayden Reed in announcing his plans to return this week.

Henderson arrived in East Lansing as an early enrollee in the spring of 2018. He saw action in all 13 games as a true freshman and quickly made a name for himself on third down and on special teams.

By the following season, Henderson was a starter at the safety position. In 2019, he ranked second on the team with 83 total tackles, including a team-high 56 solo stops. He continued this level of productivity over the past three years.

In 2021, Henderson finished the season with a total of 96 tackles, 61 of which were solo tackles. Both of these values were tied for first place on the Spartan defense. This productivity earned him third-team All-Big Ten honors by the media and Pro Football Focus, and honorable mention All-Big Ten honors by the conference’s coaches. For his career, Henderson leads all active Spartans with 235 career tackles and 33 consecutive starts.

Henderson was also the undisputed leader of the defense, if not the entire team. He was the only Spartan to be named a game captain in all 13 games in 2021. Henderson was also selected as one of the three student-athletes to represent the Green and White at Big Ten media days this past July in Indianapolis.

2021 Big Ten Football Media Day Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images

The Spartans have four players who have declared for the 2022 NFL Draft with remaining college eligibility. Running back Kenneth Walker III opted out of the Peach Bowl to prepare for the draft. Additionally, offensive lineman Kevin Jarvis declared for the draft on Saturday, tight end/H-Back Connor Heyward has accepted an invite to the Senior Bowl and will then pursue the NFL, and junior wide receiver Jalen Nailor declared on Monday.

Other players — including center Matt Allen, defensive end Drew Beesley, kicker Matt Coghlin, quarterback Anthony Russo, defensive end Drew Jordan, offensive lineman AJ Arcuri, offensive lineman Luke Campbell and defensive end Jacub Panasiuk — have all used up their college eligibility. Some of them may get a shot in the NFL, while others may to decide to prepare for life without football.