After a strong 2015 season, redshirt junior defensive tackle Willie Henry announced on Twitter Wednesday night that he will forgo his final year of eligibility with the Michigan football team and enter the NFL Draft.
“We’ve had a long exciting journey together,” Henry said to Michigan coaches, teammates and fans in a statement on Twitter. “For the past few years at the University, all of you have been like a second family to me.
“Nevertheless, my time as a student athlete has come to a end. I have decided to continue my football career in a more professional direction.”
In his third season playing on the 12th-ranked Wolverines’ front, the 6-foot-3, 311-pound Henry had career highs in tackles (34), tackles for loss (10) and sacks (6.5). His 6.5 sacks were tied with redshirt junior Chris Wormley for the team lead.
In back-to-back games against then-No. 13 Northwestern and then-No. 7 Michigan State, Henry totaled nine tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and four sacks, showcasing improved speed that could make him ready for the next level.
Henry was an integral part on one of the nation’s best defensive lines and led the Wolverines to their most wins since 2011.
In his letter, Henry credited the coaching staff and support around him for making his dream possible.
“I want to express my gratitude to all of the coaching staff that I had the pleasure of working with throughout my time here at Michigan,” Henry said. “This began with the coaching staff that was here with Brady Hoke (who is a great man and mentor) and the coaching staff that is here now whom I had the benefit of sharing my most memorable season.
“So, to Michigan, I say goodbye knowing you all have given me an experience of a lifetime that I will cherish forever.”
Though Henry is leaving, other potential NFL players such as junior tight end Jake Butt, redshirt junior defensive back Jourdan Lewis and Wormley have all committed to playing one more season for the Wolverines, who could still return up to 16 starters.