|Henry ready to make waves on D-line|
|Written by Matt Pargoff|
Michigan head coach Brady Hoke generally does not like to draw too much attention to true freshmen. They are kept away from the media for the most part, and once the season begins, only those that see the field are discussed at press conferences. One exception to that rule last fall was defensive tackle Willie Henry.
Whether it was Hoke’s greater familiarity with a player in his position group, or the progress that Henry was making, the young defensive lineman was mentioned several times during bowl preparation and spring practice as a player that was developing well.
While word has gotten through that Henry is making progress, the more important message about continuing to work hard is where the redshirt freshman has placed his focus going into the fall.
“He’ll give me a little bit of a compliment, but he always feels like there’s always room for improvement,” said Henry of his head coach. “Whether it’s getting after the ball or making plays, staying active, getting in better shape, he wants everyone on the team to perform at their best and to compete every down.”
Entering the first year in which he will get the chance to see the field, Henry is eager to make his mark, but his primary focus remains set on more important team goals.
“You get excited, but I’m just here to compete,” Henry noted. "I didn't play last year, so that gave me time to study the plays. I'm going out there and competing, giving everything my all, and just getting ready for Aug. 31 against Central Michigan.
“[I want] to do as much as possible for this team to win all the games we can and help all the seniors go out on a strong note."
Henry’s progress and attitude have not gone unnoticed. His head coach has mentioned his development on several occasions, but his teammates are also among those that have been impressed.
“I’ve seen a lot of growth out of Willie Henry,” noted sophomore defensive tackle Ondre Pipkins. “Last year, people weren’t even talking about him. Now, everyone’s talking about him, because we see the potential and the ability that Willie Henry has.
“He’s just working hard, running to the ball, and making plays that normally you shouldn’t make as a defensive tackle. It’s something that’s maybe more designed for the linebackers to make. But he’s making great strides every day, and coming out and competing. From the first rep to the last rep, he’s just focusing and trying to get better as an athlete.”
For more from Willie Henry, watch the video below.