Transferring from a big program to a smaller program worked well for Dusty Bonner and Fabian Walker.
The smaller program in both cases was Valdosta State, led by head coach Chris Hatcher.
That equation appears to be the right one for Antonio Henton, albeit with a different destination.
A source in Statesboro confirmed that Henton is leaving Ohio State – following almost two days of published and online reports speculating on Henton’s decision - and will join Hatcher for his second season at Georgia Southern.
The former Peach County star hasn’t made it public, but has reportedly told teammates of his intent to move from Columbus, Ohio, to Statesboro with plans to be in uniform and on the field for the 2008 season.
Henton will be eligible to play this year, transferring “down” from a Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly Division I-A) team to a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) team.
Peach County head coach Chad Campbell, an assistant during Henton’s days as a Trojan, did confirm that there was movement.
“It’s a good possibility,” he said Friday.
Hatcher, a Macon native who begins his second year at GSU this fall, was in a meeting today.
“I can’t say anything,” he said. “I haven’t been taking any media calls. I just can’t say anything.”
The move reunites Henton with his high school head coach. Rance Gillespie is GSU’s offensive coordinator, and he and Henton teamed to help Peach County win the 2005 Class AAA championship when the Trojans beat Dougherty 35-14 in the title game, the first of two straight championships for the Trojans.
Henton’s resume as a senior was impressive: quarterback of a state championship team, All-Middle Georgia player of the year, Georgia Sports Writers Association all-classification state player of the year and Macon Touchdown Club state player of the year.
He committed early to and signed with Ohio State, and immediately drew comparisons to OSU star quarterback Troy Smith, who led the Buckeyes to the 2006 national title game and won the Heisman Trophy that season.
Henton redshirted in 2007, and played in the first four games of 2008 before an arrest for solicitation led to his suspension for nearly two months.
He pleaded guilty to loitering for prostitution, a lesser charge, and was reinstated. Henton moved up a spot on the depth chart during OSU’s preparations for LSU in the national championship game but didn’t play.
Then Ohio State signed highly-touted recruit Terrelle Pryor – who already has a Web site in his name - of Jeannette, Pa., almost 200 miles from from Columbus, in March.
Starting quarterback Todd Boeckman returns, and redshirt freshman Joe Bauserman appeared to move ahead of Henton – who passed for 57 yards and ran for 41 in four games last season - during the spring.
Transferring from a major college to work with Hatcher – who went 76-12 at Valdosta State as head coach - worked well for Bonner and Walker.
Bonner was a starting quarterback at Kentucky, but transferred and joined Hatcher at VSU after Hatcher left UK’s staff. Bonner won the Harlan Hill Trophy – Division II’s version of the Heisman Trophy – twice while playing for Hatcher.
Walker was a highly-recruited quarterback from Americus who went to Florida State and saw sporadic playing time. He did start against Georgia in the Sugar Bowl following the 2002 season, a 26-13 loss.
He transferred to Valdosta State and led the Blazers to the 2005 Division II national championship.
Georgia Southern went 7-4 in 2007, and the Eagles must replace All-America quarterback Jayson Foster. Henton will join a crowded race at quarterback with Lee Chapple, Billy Lowe, Kyle Collins and Jordan Haggerty. Only Lowe has any game experience, playing in seven last year and throwing 26 passes.
GSU opens the season on Aug. 30 at Georgia.
Staff reporter Robyn Disney contributed to this report.