During the summer doldrums of sports news, many college football fans are starved for news and information regarding their favorite teams.
With that in mind, we at B5Q have decided to take a more detailed look at each walk-on contributor and scholarship player on the Wisconsin Badgers football roster for 2020 in a running feature, our 2020 returnee profiles.
Each weekday we will breakdown one player on the football roster to look back at their recruiting process, their career as a Badger to this juncture and lastly preview their potential contribution to the team in 2020 and beyond.
Today we keep things on the defensive line, and spotlight Matt Henningsen.
Name: Matt Henningsen
Position: defensive end
2020 eligibility: redshirt junior
Recruiting info out of HS: 247 composite 2-star, No. 268 offensive tackle, Menomonee Falls
2019 recruitment: A first-team all-state selection by the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association on each side of the ball his senior season, Matt Henningsen chose to bet on himself and walk-on at Wisconsin. A lower-ranked prospect at the time, Henningsen forewent scholarship opportunities at Northern Illinois, Illinois State, Princeton and Western Illinois to become a Badger.
Career statistics: 56 tackles, 7.5 tackles for a loss, five sacks, two fumble recoveries, two touchdowns.
2019 statistics: 24 tackles, five tackles for a loss, four sacks, two fumble recoveries, two touchdowns.
Player overview: One of the most cerebral players on the entire team, Henningsen was thrown into the starting lineup during his redshirt freshman season due to injuries along the defensive line. After earning his stripes that year, Henningsen had a huge off-season that garnered the attention of his peers and the coaching staff.
The sophomore lineman went on to have a great season in 2019 with four sacks and two defensive touchdowns, along with a much improved presence in the run defense. Henningsen’s play was a big reason for the enhancements along the defensive line last year.
Best case scenario for 2020: It is going to be hard for Henningsen to outperform his two touchdown season last year, but I think he could easily bolster his sack numbers while still maintaining his proficiency in run stuffing.
In 2019, Henningsen had four sacks which is a solid mark for any 3-4 defensive lineman. If he makes another nice jump this off-season, he could easily top five sacks in 2020 and set himself up to be essentially a four-year starter going into 2021.
Likely role on team in 2020: Henningsen made five starts last year, and made 10 starts as a freshman. In 2020, I anticipate that he will continue to be a key player up front for the Wisconsin defense, regardless of how many starts he makes. The Badgers have a wealth of depth on the defensive line entering next season, and he should be in the rotation with Isaiahh Loudermilk and Garrett Rand on all three primary downs given his skillset and strong play.
With less experience at outside linebacker in 2020, Henningsen and his fellow defensive lineman could really help keep the sack totals high by creating havoc in the backfield and freeing the young linebackers to make plays.