The Wolverine

March 2020 Issue

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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2020 FOOTBALL RECRUITING ISSUE an opportunity to bond with Michi- gan head coach Jim Harbaugh. With Henning being such an elite talent, Harbaugh took a special in- terest in him and personally helped recruit him to Ann Arbor. Harbaugh also rolled out the red carpet on Hen- ning's official visit, which played a big role in his decision to eventually pull the trigger. "What stood out about Coach Har- baugh was how relatable he was," Henning said. "He really took the chance to sit down with me and fam- ily. He genuinely built a relationship with me and my family. He was with us all throughout our official visit. We talk weekly. He told me good luck before every game I had on Friday. We've built up a great relationship." "When you hear a kid say 'Michi- gan is like family,' it's true," Jefferson added. "Michigan is truly like family. That was big for us. We love Coach Harbaugh. He's so down to earth. One thing A.J. said is that Coach Harbaugh is a big deal, but doesn't make a big deal about himself. He's so humble. That's something we love. He's not a superstar coach that you can't ap- proach. You can always talk to him." Following his verbal pledge in the summer, Henning remained fully com- mitted to the Wolverines and was one of the most vocal members of the 2020 recruiting class, which finished No. 11 in the team rankings. Henning took advantage of the early signing period in December and didn't waste any time putting pen to paper. "Signing was something I looked forward to for a long time," Henning said. "Just to get that over with was a dream come. I love the coaching staff and home feeling. I know Michigan is my home." Henning capped off his illustrious high school career by leading Lincoln Way East to an undefeated season and a win in the Illinois Class 8A state championship. In the title game victory over Warren Township, Hen- ning rushed for 125 yards and the game-winning score. But his last showing before head- ing off to Ann Arbor was actually in San Antonio. Henning was named an All-American and participated in the bowl game down in Texas. There, Henning showed flashes of his electric playmaking ability and turned heads at practice. Along with getting in reps against other top-tier recruits, Henning also had a chance to face off against a future teammate, four-star Michigan signee Darion Green-Warren. The two are sure to have plenty of prac- tice battles in the near future." "It was awesome going against some of the top competition in the country," Henning said. "It was tough going against [LSU signee and four- star] Dwight McGlothern and [Geor- gia signee and five-star] Kelee Ringo. I got to go against Darion Green-Warren too. He's a long, lanky corner. He can cover well. Adding him to the Michi- gan defense is great. Going against him and Andre [Seldon] in practice is going to take my game to a new level." Now, Henning is fully focused on his journey to Ann Arbor. While he is sure to make some highlight reel plays for the Wolver- ines — potentially as a true freshman — Henning will be a valuable addi- tion for Michigan for more than his speed and ability on the field. This is a future leader for a Michi- gan program looking to finally turn the corner. His on-the-field play could be the missing ingredient this offense needs, but his off-the-field in- tangibles could be the solution to this program taking the next step from a cultural standpoint. Speed kills. Leadership wins foot- ball games. "He has the personality that other guys will rally around," Helmholdt said. "I think he'll add a lot to the locker room. I think he's a leader. I think A.J. has leadership qualities and is a guy people want to play with because he's a magnanimous personality that attracts his peers. He'll be a positive addition on and off the field." ❑ Henning "I've gotten the Tyreek Hill comparison. The Chiefs have moved him all around. The Chiefs use him as that speed guy that plays in the slot, and returns kicks and punts. They use him a lot in jet motion. I feel like that's a good comparison. And, yeah, I'm that fast." Henning tallied 1,483 yards from scrimmage and 29 total touchdowns as a prep senior. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM MARCH 2020 THE WOLVERINE 29 STATISTICS Year Rec. Yds. TD Car. Yds. TD 2019 52 835 13 121 648 15 2018 12 271 1 29 204 2 2017 10 277 3 21 228 2

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