By MAX COHEN especially for a 'defensive
Daily Sports Editor lineman, is measured as much
by determination as physical
When Ted Ginn Sr. first saw strength. It's about how badly the
Willie Henry, he saw the makings player wants to hit the man onthe
of a football player. He saw a other side of the line of scrimmage,
defensive lineman dripping with the intimidating look on his face
potential, capable of busting when he would do anything to
through opposing offensive lines make the tackle.
and sacking the quarterback. He But for Henry, his first instinct
sawayoungmanwho, ifheutilized wasn't natural aggression. It was
his physical talents, would be to smile.
good enough to earn a scholarship No matter what he's doing, the
playing college football. Michigan redshirt sophomore is
Henry was a sophomore always smiling. From the first time
transfer to Ginn Ginn met Henry
Academy, Ginn's to the last time
school where "le could be a he walked off
he focuses on his field, Henry
educating the vthat p y i always had a big
male youth of atplaysi grin on his face.
Cleveland. The the NFL for "Even when
school doesn't he's serious, he
have athletic 10 years." looks like he's
teams, so Henry playing all the
would play at time," Ginn said.
Glenville High In the
School, where Ginn coaches. testosterone-soaked world of
It seemed like the ideal situation football where coaches demand
for Henry. The coach produces constant aggression and meanness
numerous college football players from their big men in the trenches,
in each class at Glenville and has the feature that most defines
sent a handful of players to the Henry is often misconstrued as a
National Football League. lack of care.
But in football, success, It didn't matter if he was-
running drills, in a meeting or
even getting yelled at by a coach,
Henry's facial expression was the
same. He never stopped smiling
and laughing with his teammates.
"He's a joker," Ginn said. "He's
just a good kid. He's playing
around so much, he's joking
around so much. And I think in
the beginning it kind of hurt him."
During practice at Glenville,
that joking was constant, which
irked Ginn. He felt' as though
Henry's jesting prevented him
from making all of the plays he
Ginn said Henry's joviality
was a combination of being just a
happy-go-lucky guy and a little bit
"You could be talking to him
about something serious and he'll
look at you and laugh," Ginn said.
"And it will frustrate you."
In order to fulfill his potential
as a college football player,.Henry
had to shed some of that playful
mentality. And that was a process.
Before his senior year, Ginn
began to see some changes in
Henry. The smile was still. there,
but he began to show some of
the fire and maturity Ginn was
Glenville was short on depth on
the offensive line and Henry said
he'd play both ways. He started
on offense and defense that year,
beginning a trend of leadership
from Henry. When it was needed,
he spoke up for the good of the
Ginn said the recruiting process
brought out the seriousness in
Henry, but it wasn't immediate.
During one recruiting visit, Henry
goofed around the entire time.
Then, he really heard it from Ginn.
"I got on him real tough,"
Ginn said. "And that's the time
that I saw he looked real serious,
because he knew I wasn't playing
"I cut that smile off his face."
Ginn knew Henry could play
in college from the first time they
met, and he wasn't goingto let him
Hepry was serious about
recruiting from that moment
on., Still, he wasn't considered
a can't-miss prospect. His offer
sheet was composed primarily of
schools from the Mid-American
Conference and the Big East
before Michigan offered.
"It was the greatest day of my
life when I got the offer, they
told me that I had the offer from
Michigan," Henry said last week.
"I cherished that moment, put it
in a jar, Coach Hoke would say,
sealed it up."
He didn't wait long to commit,
giving his pledge soon after he
was offered in late January 2012.
Like he did with Michigan
senior defensive end Frank Clark,
another unheralded recruit
from Glenville, Ginn told the
Wolverines' coaching staff about
the potential he saw in Henry.
Michigan asked him what he saw
in his own players, whereas many
college coaches don't make similar
efforts in the recruiting process,
relying on scouting rankings and
Because of their faith in Ginn,
the Wolverines found two of their
starters on the defensive line.
But once he was in Ann Arbor,
his easygoing demeanor prevailed
again. He was still joking around,
but this time the stakes were
"It's a good thing more so
than it's a bad thing," Ginn said
of Henry's attitude. "It's a bad
thing because if you don't really
understand him, you're going to
Ginn thinks this negative side of
his playfulness caught up to Henry
a little bit in his first two years at
Michigan. After redshirting his
first year, Henry frequently found
himself on the bench early in his
When he was on the field, the
coaches noticed Henry didn't run
to the ball on every play and he
wasn't serious enough for their
liking. Once again, coaches felt
as though the effort wasn't fully
there. He needed to mature.
"They don't have time for that,"
This season, Henry has become
more serious once again, starting
all three games and playing a
major role in the Wolverines'
stout run defense. Hoke says the
6-foot-2, 293-pounder may be the
strongest player on the team.
Last week, Michigan's coaches
noted Henry's increased desire
and maturity. For the first time,
his effort is a constant.
"You'll see (him) running to
the football in times of the game
where he wouldn't have before,"
said defensive coordinator Greg
As with most of his young
players, Hoke thought hearing
Tom Brady and Elvis Grbac speak
to the team - as well as watching a
video of Richard Sherman talking
about preparation - helped Henry
understand the responsibility
that comes with playing college
In practice in the offseason,
defensive line coach Mark Smith
and Hoke pushed Henry every
day. They too didn't want to see
his potential go to waste.
To Henry, it felt differently than
it did when his coaches previously
"When you were immature, you
feel like they're picking on you,
but as you grow you see that they
just want the best for me," Henry
This newfound maturity
brought out the best in Henry.
Instead of resting after drills or
going to the locker room early,
he did extra pushups and wind
sprints to become a better player.
The smile hasn't disappeared,
though. When he speaks with the
media, he flashes a toothy grin,
revealing his braces.
But because of Henry's
newfound dedication, Ginn
envisions a new future for his
former player, one that goes
beyond playing in college.
"He could be a guy that plays in
the NFL for 10 years," Ginn said.
That would give Henry yet
another reason to smile. This time,
his coaches would loin right in.
Henry made the All-Big Ten Freshman Team last year after redshirting in 2012.
At 6-foot-2, 293 pounds, Henry may be the strongest player on the team, according to Michigan football coach Brady Hoke.
ALLISON FARRAND (TOP) AND PAUL IHERMAN/Daily
Henry has appeared in 15 games, making nine starts. He was one of Michigan's bright spots in the blowout at Notre Dame, recording three tackles and a quarterback hurry in helping to limit the Irish's rush offense.
Ted Ginn Sr. urged the Wolverines to recruit Henry and Frank Clark when they played for him at Glenville High School.
2 1 FootballSaturday, September 19, 2014
The Michigan Daily, www.michigandaily.com 1 3