Name: A.J. Henning
Weight: 185 lbs.
High school: Frankfort (IL) Lincoln-Way East
Position: Wide receiver
Jersey number: #3
Last year: I ranked Henning #23 and said he would be a backup wide receiver and starting kick returner with 14 catches for 170 yards and 2 touchdowns (LINK). He caught 10 passes for 79 yards and ran 9 times for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns.
TTB Rating: 86
Henning had a chance to step up in 2021 after speedy gadget guy Giles Jackson transferred to Washington prior to the season. And Henning didn’t miss a beat. While he didn’t establish himself as a versatile receiver, he became the end around guy and scored on a 74-yard touchdown run in the first game. He also added a kickoff return for a touchdown against Maryland and a touchdown run against Ohio State. Henning also stepped in to replace injured punt returner Ronnie Bell after the coaches initially tried Caden Kolesar in Bell’s stead.
I expect more of the same from Henning in 2022. There’s no reason to expect fewer end arounds or jet sweeps, and his share of the passing targets probably can’t get much smaller. There’s also a good chance that he ends up handling punt returns and/or kickoff returns. I will be interested to see if Bell takes punt return duties back or if that experiment has ended. Overall, Henning can do a little bit of everything – rushing, receiving, punt returning, and kickoff returning – but if he’s not available for some reason, I think there are other guys who can absorb his role without a huge dropoff.
Prediction: Starting kickoff and punt returner, backup wide receiver