Coach: Henningsen "a unique combination of size, athleticism"
Late June is usually a time in the recruiting calendar when college coaches are locking up early commitments during unoffical visits.
It's not common for schools to begin receiving preferred walk-on pledges during the summer months, but Matt Henningsen was in a unique situation with the University of Wisconsin.
"At first it was surprising, but he's in a unique situation," Henningsen's head coach at Menomonee Falls, Dan Lutz, told BadgerBlitz.com. "He's off the charts academically and members of his family have gone to school there.
"I knew when he first told me that Wisconsin was going to try to offer him something that if they did, he was probably going to go there."
The situation becomes even more rare considering Henningsen, a 6-foot-5, 265-pound lineman, turned down scholarship money from schools such as Buffalo, Illinois State, North Dakota, Northern Illinois and South Dakota. But the draw to attend school where his parents graduated and three older brothers attended was more than enough.
"Matt is a great kid and his recruitment this past spring kept me very busy," Lutz said. "He possesses a unique combination of size and athleticism. He also is very intelligent and is near the top of his class academically. I knew that in the end Matt would have multiple offers and he would have a tough decision to make.
"It's not common to pass up full scholarships for a preferred walk-on this early, but I think that Matt's love for the Badgers, combined with the great walk-on tradition that they have there, was the reason why he committed to Wisconsin. I know he'll be successful there and I look forward to watching a lot of Badger football for years to come."
A first-team all-conference and WFCA All-Region selection as a junior, Henningsen will begin as a defensive tackle at UW, in part because the Badgers have four scholarship offensive linemen already committed in the 2017 class.
"Matt has a big wingspan for his height which allows him to get great extension," Lutz said. "He's pretty good at throwing lineman off and getting to his spot."
Off the field, Henningsen possess all the characteristics head coach Paul Chryst values in his "smart, tough, dependable" mantra.
"I can't say enough positive things about him," Lutz said. "He's a great leader and this coming season will be his second as a team captain. He's sixth out of 326 in his class academically, and he's helped at many events in the community.
"He has a great motor and is self motivated. He's a pleasure to coach and I'm glad I have him for one more year."