Hello: Willie Henry

Submitted by Ace on January 30th, 2012 at 2:18 PM

[UPDATE: There is some dispute as to whether or not Henry has committed. Tom texted Henry, who said he hasn't committed yet and was looking to announce on Tuesday ($). Sam Webb, on the other hand, confirmed the commitment with Ted Ginn, Henry's head coach at Glenville. Sounds like Henry will end up at Michigan either way and there was some miscommunication between him and Ginn about the announcement, but I'll let you know if circumstances change.]

Sam Webb is reporting on Twitter that Glenville (OH) DT Willie Henry, who visited and got an offer over the weekend, has committed to Michigan. Henry becomes Michigan's 24th commit of the class of 2012 and projects to fill a spot at three-tech defensive tackle. The last Glenville product to join the Wolverines was another three-star defensive lineman, current DE Frank Clark—let's hope Henry is able to impress the coaches as much as Clark did last year.


Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
3*, #38 DT 3*, NR DT 3*, 75, #97 DT 3*, 83, #75 DT

Coming from a high-profile program in Glenville, Henry has had his fair share of exposure, and all four services agree that he's a low-to-mid three-star prospect. The general consensus on his size is that he's in the area of 6'3", 270 pounds, so he'll have to put on some weight if he's going to land at defensive tackle.

He appears to have the frame to do just that, according to ESPN's evaluation ($):

Though Henry needs to keep developing his frame and add some more good mass he does possess good natural size and looks to carry more bulk than is listed. As a defensive tackle he flashes a good get-off, but can be inconsistent and while at times he shows a nice burst at other times he can be a beat late and needs strive to be more consistent in his get-off. He can tend to play high and needs to work to keep his pad level down. When he does work to stay low he can get overextended and needs to do a better job of playing with better bend and generating more power from his lower body when he engages blockers. When he can gain leverage he is a tough guy to move, but he seems to make things hard on himself at times. He looks to have a solid reach for his build, but needs to do a better job of bringing and using his hands to keep blockers from getting into his frame. When he is active with his hands he can battle and be tough to handle, but with a tendency to pop up and lead with the shoulder and lose his hands he can let blockers into him and can be pushed back. Demonstrates adequate ability to locate the ball though doing a better job of separating from blockers could help to find the ball better. Displays marginal short-area change-of-direction skills.

As is expected with a sleeper prospect like Henry, improving technique will be key if he is going to contribute down the road, and it sounds like he has a fair amount of work to do in that regard. This is when it's quite handy to have three defensive line coaches on the staff. Scout, who ranked Henry the highest out of any recruiting service, has a more positive take on his game. They list athleticism, foot quickness, and pass-rushing ability as his strengths, with size as his area for improvement. Allen Trieu likes Henry's athleticism and, in contrast to ESPN, praises his jump off the line:

Henry is an athletic player who is light on his feet, has good coordination and closing speed. He is disruptive and gets good penetration because he has good get off. He shows a good motor and foot speed in pursuit. He has to add some bulk and strength to be able to anchor against the run, but he flashes, makes some big plays in the backfield and is a good interior pass rusher.

Trieu evaluated Henry at the Columbus NIKE Football Training Camp last May, where he competed alongside the likes of Ondre Pipkins, Danny O'Brien, Mario Ojemudia, and Adolphus Washington, and said he "produced outstanding results in the 1-1s. He’s quick and agile, and used that to win every rep he took."

John McAllister of MSROhio notes that Henry spent his winters focused on basketball, which could help explain his solid athleticism and his need to add weight, and he echoes the praise for Henry's quickness:

Listed at 6'3-270, he uses his athleticism and quickness to beat offensive linemen. Really like the way he uses his hands to separate. Plays pad under pad. Needs to improve his change of direction, but his closing speed on his pass rush is excellent. He agrees that his quickness is his strength. A weakness is that he feels that he must play hard every down. Going both ways on a high level program is hard. He wants to play hard every play. Conditioning and pacing himself is important. Honestly, evaluating him, he does not take many plays "off."

To sum it up, Henry fits the mold of a raw but talented D-line prospect: athletic, quick, and with a good frame, but in need of some serious coaching on technique.


Henry held offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisville, Marshall, Ohio, Pitt, Syracuse, and Toledo. Obviously, that's a lot of MACtion, but offers from the Illini, Pitt, and Syracuse stand out.


No stats were available through an initial Google-stalk. If you spot any, post them in the comments and I'll update the post.


ScoutingOhio lists Henry with a 4.78 40-yard dash. That would be outstanding for an interior lineman, even one who played TE and DE in high school, so I'll give that four FAKEs out of five and hope I'm wrong.


Henry boasts a rather extensive, and impressive, senior highlight film:

These are only highlights, obviously, but he looks very quick off the ball.


As stated earlier, Henry should land at the three-tech at Michigan once he puts on some weight. It's always tough to project these sleeper recruits as anything more than useful depth for the squad, but Henry looks like a player who could contribute down the road as a situational pass-rusher—if he can keep his burst and quickness after adding 20-30 pounds, he could be a real handful for interior offensive linemen. With Ondre Pipkins slated to hold down the nose and command double-teams for the next four years, Henry could see a lot of single-blocking if he eventually sees the field, and he has the athleticism to take advantage. Given the need to add weight and refine his technique—as well as the strong class of defensive linemen already in the fold—it's safe to assume that Henry will redshirt and likely take at least a couple of years to crack the depth chart.


Henry's commitment leaves up to four open spots in the class of 2012, but at this point there aren't four obvious candidates to fill those spots. With Josh Garnett, Armani Reeves, Alex Kozan, and Sam Grant all committing elsewhere over the past week, only Jordan Diamond remains as a clear option to join the class. He announces on February 3rd, two days after signing day, so we'll see if any other surprises pop up in the interim. There are no huge needs remaining for the class (more on that tomorrow), though getting at least one more offensive lineman—Diamond, in all likelihood—would alleviate some depth concerns. Other potential positions to watch would be tight end, wide receiver, and cornerback, though as I said there are no current targets on the radar, at least when it comes to the recruiting services. We'll have to wait and see if the coaching staff has other plans or if they choose to pocket a couple scholarships for the 2013 class.



January 30th, 2012 at 2:26 PM ^

This is great news.  His film is impressive as all get out and I have to admit I like the Jake Ryan comparison that Sam Webb trotted out this morning.  Welcome Aboard Willie!


January 30th, 2012 at 2:28 PM ^

Good news for sure... On another note, my virus software is blowing up with warnings on the site today. Posting from my phone right now.. Can anyone contact the admin?


January 30th, 2012 at 2:37 PM ^

LOL man I will always remember the night I wasted like an hour and a half refreshing the Cullen Cristian commitment open thread, because he was late for his announcement.  Then the dude ends up not panning out anyways after committing.

This is exhibit A why it's best not to get too concerned with all the day-to-day details of recruiting.  It's like a roller coaster, there are ups and downs, sometimes highly rated guys don't pan out, sometimes lower rated guys are sleepers. 


January 30th, 2012 at 2:43 PM ^

about this guy.  Don't have to be a big time star recruit, but filling a position of need is always a good thing.  Lets close this class out with Diamond and maybe a little surprise come Wednesday would be nice.


January 30th, 2012 at 2:44 PM ^

Lots of good things have been said about his abilities and the pipeline school he comes from.  Considering his size, experience playing offense, and what some evaluators think is very rough block shedding technique; is their anyways he could be groomed into an offensive center?  He seems to have the size and foot speed for it, just another thought for debate if nothing else.


Blue boy johnson

January 30th, 2012 at 2:50 PM ^

Willie is just a real cool name. Michigan needs more Willie's. We haven't had a Willie on the football team in ages. Willie Heston was the last I believe and I have no idea when he played, We had Willie Mitchell for a spell in hoops. Welcome aboard Willie.


January 30th, 2012 at 3:50 PM ^

A search of the Bentley database uncovers a Willie Smith, a tackle from Little Rock, Arkansas, who was on the 1956-58 teams, wearing #75. He caught one pass for 10 yards in the 1958 Ohio game, according to the U-M football statistics archive. His Wikipedia page has him playing two seasons in the AFL.

Willie Heston played from 1901 to 1904 and holds the Michigan career record for touchdowns at 72.


January 30th, 2012 at 3:00 PM ^

Dude had a monster senior season on a good team - 10 sacks

6'3", 273, #38 ranked DT (Scout), strengths include speed, pass rushing, foot quickness.

"Henry is an athletic player who is light on his feet, has good coordination and closing speed. He is disruptive and gets good penetration because he has good get off. He shows a good motor and foot speed in pursuit. He has to add some bulk and strength to be able to anchor against the run, but he flashes, makes some big plays in the backfield and is a good interior pass rusher." - Allen Trieu

I don't mean to be a blatant homer, but this kid sounds pretty good. We all know that it is very difficult for a recruit to move up in the rankings after the initial rankings are released. He had zero sacks in '09,'10 and a monster '11 season. With even modest numbers before he was a senior it's fairly safe to assume he's a 4* recruit. He comes into a situation with an immediate need and perhaps the best group of DL coaches in the country. 

Yesterday sucked, today is good. Welcome Willie!!!!




January 30th, 2012 at 2:58 PM ^

There are DTs rated lower that Henry going to Florida, Texas, South Carolina, Arkanase, etc.  So if those programs don't have an issue with the ratings then I think we are okay.  I like his positives (athletic, quickness, etc.) and his negative is size.  He will redshirt and bulk up to a good 280+.  He might be really good here. 


January 30th, 2012 at 3:09 PM ^

His highlight film shows a kid with a good, quick burst off the line, displays good pad level, and has quite a motor (as demonstrated by his hustle all over the field to track down plays).  He comes from a good high school program that puts out a lot of D1 recruits.  I like this kid a lot.  I don't know why it took so long to get him an offer, other than the coaches had other DL they were trying to woo.

Glad to have Willie aboard.  Go Blue.