Last year, J.J. Watt led the Badger defense statistically, but, most importantly, vocally — on and off the field.
Without a doubt, Aaron Henry is UW’s vocal leader this season.
He may not be able to figuratively carry the city around in the palm of his hand like Watt, but the senior safety is easily one of Wisconsin’s most beloved players.
But while his “yes, ma’ams” and “thank you, sirs” have made him one of the most notoriously polite players you may ever encounter, on the field, he is completely different.
“It’s just a mentality. You have to be able to have that switch,” Henry said. “Being on the field and just walking around here talking to people are just two different things. … The reality of football is it’s a nasty, rough, tough sport. It’s in your face and it’s smash mouth. You don’t go out there to try and make friends with people.”
Henry attributes his well-defined manners to his grandmother and just showing respect to people.
This respect is not just for show. And his genuine personality has allowed him to be one of the most respected players and a captain, in return.
“He’s an over-the-top funny guy, he’s a little vain, he’s a little bit of everything,” sophomore safety Dezmen Southward said. “We’re going to miss him next year.”
“He’s obviously a great player, but I think he’s a much better individual,” junior safety Shelton Johnson said. “There’s a lot of players … that are just players, but Aaron Henry, he’s just an all-around wonderful individual player to be around, and we kind of feed off that as a team.”
While he is a great leader now, Henry’s career at UW has not been the smoothest.
Henry played cornerback throughout his entire life until last year and did not agree with head coach Bret Bielema’s decision to move him to safety.
“I hated it,” Henry said. “I didn’t really like the decision, we kind of butted heads. He always has a player’s goodwill at heart. He’s been doing this for a long time. I didn’t understand it because I had been playing corner my whole life … but after suffering my knee injury and going through a few surgeries, he thought it would be best.”
The Immokalee, Fla., native said he is now thankful for the switch and admits that if he could change things he may have started out at safety — but he will always be a corner at heart.
Let's hope he can help lead the Badgers to a Big Ten Championship. GO BUCKY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!