Freshmen Faces: AJ Henning
Coming out of Frankfort (Ill.) Lincoln-Way East, AJ Henning was considered the No. 101 overall player nationally and No. 18 wide receiver in the country. At 5-10, 183 pounds, Henning isn't the biggest player on the field but he's put together, very fast and extremely elusive. As a senior, Henning scored 29 total touchdowns with some coming as a running back, some coming as a wide receiver and one by way of punt return. Henning also competed in track and field, where he finished fourth in the Class 3A 100-meter dash as a junior with a time of 10.73 seconds.
Henning committed to Michigan on June 26, 2019 after a big visit weekend that resulted in a several verbal pledges for the Wolverines. Henning chose the Wolverines over schools like Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Nebraska, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Stanford, Tennessee and Wisconsin among others.
Player Breakdown/Player Comparison
As an offensive player, Henning has it all. He has terrific straight-line speed as evidenced by his 10.73 in the 100-meter dash and he's also dynamic when it comes to his stop and start ability. He can change direction in the blink of an eye and really does a good job finding openings among defenses.
It doesn't matter if he's in the backfield, the slot or split out wide — get him the ball and he's going to make something happen. He's been billed as extremely dynamic and should be viewed as a home run threat as soon as he steps on the field, even at a place like Michigan.
With 10.73 speed and at 5-10, 183 pounds, Henning reminds me of Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver and former Georgia standout Mecole Hardman. As a prep star, Hardman was extremely versatile and was actually viewed as a five-star athlete because of how good he was in coverage and on offense. He obviously settled into his role as a wide receiver and became a second-round draft pick.
Like Henning, Hardman was never the biggest player on the field and even now is listed at just 5-10, 187 pounds. But with his speed, suddenness and quickness in the open field, he's a problem. Henning has the same types of abilities at almost the exact same size, which should make Michigan fans excited for what he'll do in a winged helmet.
With stud receivers Nico Collins and Ronnie Bell leading the way, and sophomores Giles Jackson, Cornelius Johnson and Mike Sainristil expected to step up in year two, I really don't think Henning will be needed, but like Michigan's trio of freshmen wide receivers from last year, he'll probably see the field sparingly.
Henning is at least as fast as every receiver mentioned above, so he'll be worth monitoring even as a rookie. I think he'll see the field about as much as Sainristil did last season, which should result in 6-10 catches for 100-150 yards and a score or two.