A.J. Henning, Wolverine

A.J. Henning, Wolverine


June 27, 2019
A.J. Henning (image via Tinley Junction)

Frankfort (IL) Lincoln-Way East wide receiver A.J. Henning publicly committed to Michigan on Wednesday. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Alabama, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Penn State, among others.

Henning is 5’10” and 183 lbs. He has run a 10.6 in the 100 meters. He claims a 4.46 forty, a 4.08 shuttle, and a 37″ vertical.

RATINGS
ESPN: 4-star, 84 grade, #17 WR, #105 overall
Rivals: 4-star, 5.9 grade, #3 APB, #84 overall
247 Sports: 4-star, 93 grade, #26 WR, 127 overall

Hit the jump for more.

Michigan has been hard after Henning since April of 2018. For a long time, it seemed like he was Notre Dame-bound. But the longer his recruitment drew out without a commitment to the Fighting Irish, it seemed like that was a good thing for Michigan. When 2021 quarterback J.J. McCarthy committed to Michigan, that pushed the needle further in the Wolverines’ direction, since the two are friends; their schools are approximately 40 minutes apart. Henning has taken several visits to Ann Arbor, and the official visit this past weekend sealed the deal.

A month ago I made the comparison of Henning to Jeremy Gallon over on MGoBlog (LINK), and it seems like a lot of people have latched on to that comparison since then. The unique thing about Gallon was that, despite his lack of size (5’7″, 185 at the NFL Combine), he won all kinds of jump ball and physical battles. Henning is listed as an all-purpose back by Rivals, and even though I don’t think he’ll play any running back (other than maybe lining up in the backfield on occasion to mess with the defense), he plays like a running back. He plays with good body lean (like Gallon) and can break tackles (like Gallon) and can gain extra yards after contact (like Gallon). You also see Henning do a great job of catching the ball in traffic (like Gallon) and high-pointing the ball (like Gallon).

Henning is not blazingly fast (neither was Gallon) on the football field, and the fear for some might be that a player listed at 5’9″ will get bested by taller defensive backs (such was the fear about Gallon).

Overall, I don’t know if Henning will have a 1,300-yard season like Gallon did, because Gallon was a star wide receiver on a team that didn’t have many other true wide receiver options (Drew Dileo was #2 among wide receivers with 16 catches in 2014). Henning will join a team in 2020 that could potentially still have Nico Collins, Tarik Black, and Donovan Peoples-Jones, though it’s unlikely that all three will return next year. Regardless, Henning should be a very good piece of the puzzle in the wide receiver room.

Michigan now has seventeen commitments in the 2020 class. Michigan currently has three straight #1 prospects from the State of Illinois signed/committed (Trevor Keegan in 2019, Henning in 2020, McCarthy in 2021). Henning would be the first football player to come to Michigan from Lincoln-Way East.

TTB Rating: 89 (ratings explanation)

14 comments

  1. Avatar
    Comments: 1445
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    je93
    Jun 27, 2019 at 7:06 AM

    I’ve read nothing but great things about this one. GO BLUE!

  2. JC
    Comments: 247
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    JC
    Jun 27, 2019 at 10:23 AM

    I didn’t see a 10.6 100m dash online. Saw a 10.67 referenced in a 247sports article from his sophomore track season. From the 2019 outdoor season I can find anything from 10.73 to 11.21, and I don’t know what kind of wind he was facing.

    But from this highlight tape I think he has great speed. A lot of plays he has the DB beat by 3 steps, after having a 10 yard cushion, and has to adjust because the ball is thrown a bit short. The play at 1:30 you can see he shifts into top gear and pulls away from that corner.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 50
      Joined: 10/3/2015
      UM2013
      Jun 27, 2019 at 12:37 PM

      Yeah, I’m a little confused by the “lack of dynamic speed” comment as well. Track speed is not exactly equivalent to football speed, but 10.6 in the 100M is excellent (for reference, Denard’s personal best was 10.4 in high school). He also seems to use that speed to great effect on the field – the run after catch skills should be a great fit with Gattis’s offense.

      It’s actually interesting looking at track times of former CFB stars – for example, Saquon Barkley’s personal best in the 100M was 11.0 – really goes to show that explosion over a short distance is far important than straight line speed.

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3213
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Jun 27, 2019 at 12:42 PM

        Football speed is different than track speed. We currently have a kid in our program who’s slow out of the blocks, but he can catch just about anyone once he gets to full speed (except a kid who’s a borderline 5-star football recruit). There are guys who carry pads/weight better than others; considering Barkley’s physique, it’s not surprising that his helmet, shoulder pads, etc. don’t slow him down much.

        • Avatar
          Comments: 50
          Joined: 10/3/2015
          UM2013
          Jun 27, 2019 at 12:55 PM

          Good point re. Barkley.

          Just read the mgoblog write-up on Henning – multiple scouts cite explosive speed, elite speed, incredible acceleration, etc. Do you just disagree with that sentiment? Genuinely curious because I find it extremely difficult to evalaute a player’s speed from highlights because of variances in competition, sped up tape, etc. Do you think he’s at that DPJ / Amby Thomas level?

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3213
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Jun 27, 2019 at 1:59 PM

            The testing numbers are there, but that speed doesn’t show up on his junior film.

  3. Lanknows
    Comments: 5146
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Jun 27, 2019 at 10:31 AM

    Probably not Henning but some of these short WRs will have to end up in the secondary or backfield.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 50
      Joined: 10/3/2015
      UM2013
      Jun 27, 2019 at 12:41 PM

      I’m sure the depth chart will sort itself out – also obviously dont want to project transfers, but seems highly unlikely that all of the 5’9 – 5’11 ATHs that Michigan has recruited stick around for 4 years.

      Sticking with the Gallon comparison, it’ll be interesting to see if people try and pigeon-hole Henning as a ‘slot’. Seemed like it took until Gallon’s senior year for people to realize that he was a true outside receiver despite his lack of size.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5146
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jun 27, 2019 at 3:25 PM

        Yes, I’ve argued before the slot distinction is overstated. You want different skillsets but you want to line them up all over.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3213
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Jun 27, 2019 at 12:44 PM

      I think Dennis is an obvious candidate to end up in the backfield, but otherwise, I don’t know about that statement. Michigan is bringing in defensive backs, too, and Michigan could realistically lose at least two receivers to the NFL after this year. Tarik Black, who has the least production of the big three, even tweeted out that he only expects to be in college for one more year. It seems to be do-or-die time for him unless he has a change of heart.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 5146
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Jun 27, 2019 at 3:08 PM

        I’m glad Black is thinking that way. I would not be surprised if he leads the team in receiving and goes. He was ahead of DPJ and Collins before getting hurt.

        Regardless, there’s only so many balls to go around. I think 2 is the max that are leaving (it could be zero) and they’re getting replaced by a bigger group coming in. The depth chart is full now – so full that a promising player like Martin decided to transfer out. It will be even more full next year, numbers wise at least.

        I see a big void a CB, especially if Thomas goes. I guess maybe some safeties could slide over but that seems like a stretch.

  4. Avatar
    Comments: 9
    Joined: 5/3/2016
    Qotho1
    Jun 27, 2019 at 11:24 AM

    He was injured most of last season and just resumed track this spring. He was the 23rd ranked recruit at one point for a reason.

  5. Avatar
    Comments: 239
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    Extrajuice
    Jun 28, 2019 at 10:05 PM

    Whoo wheee! I like this one. Ever since I saw his tape last year I was hoping that UM would be a finalist for him. I thought he was ND bound for awhile but the good guys came out on top.

    When a team that lacks explosion for as long as UM has needed this. I’m not even sure what WR position he’ll play but I can be pretty darn sure he’ll make an impact. Very good hands and his ability to adjust to the ball in the air is unique. I know what Thunder is saying when he says that the track speed doesn’t show up on film. For someone who runs like he does on the track you expect to see it in all facets of football. However, I think Henning is kind of like Alan Trammell. He’s fast enough to make the guys chasing him look like they were close. Just like Trammell used to throw out players at 1st base by a half step and no one considered Trammell to have a great arm. He was just able to get the job done. Thunder has Gallon/Henning I have Trammell/Henning.

    I agree with Thunder, I think 89 is perfect for him. To me, he was the 2nd most important recruit to get next to Braiden McGregor.

  6. 17years
    Comments: 210
    Joined: 2/6/2018
    17years
    Jun 29, 2019 at 10:57 PM

    One thing that’s easy to see about Henning—he has hands!

    Too bad Nico Collins can’t play longer than 4 years. He’s probably going to be gone after this season.

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