MADISON — The Wisconsin Badgers football team is full of highly recruited athletes who were given a scholarship to play at Camp Randall. There are those who earn it during their time on campus. Matt Henningsen is one such player, who keeps reaching for new goals.
As a graduate of Menomonee Falls High School, Henningsen could have played football on scholarships at several places. When FOX6 Sports met him during his senior year, he already had his mind made up.
“I’m going to be playing football at Wisconsin as a walk on,” Henningsen said.
Henningsen has come a long way, but don’t expect him to brag about it.
“It’s about making big plays when they present themself and happy to be in that position,” said Henningsen.
Humility and determination are character traits Henningsen prides himself on. After red-shirting his first year and moving to the defensive line, Henningsen has been on the field in every game since.
“It’s been awesome,” Henningsen said. “I mean I love it here, I love everything about this place, and having this group of guys around me is awesome, and it’s always great to win football games too.”
Early into the season, Henningsen and the Badgers’ defense has seen a resurgence.
“We are playing our game we are playing physical brand of defense that we wanted to play last year and we want to get back to, we were physical last year but not quite there so we want to improve on that and just be a physical defense that stops the run,” Henningsen said.
Henningsen will be part of that defense for two more seasons, after being rewarded a scholarship this fall by Badgers Head Coach Paul Chryst.
“I think the real enjoyment of it is they went and earned something and the to see the gratitude through the excitement those are pretty cool moments,” Chryst said.
“It’s what I was striving for from day one when I go here and I got it, which is awesome, I am still trying to get better as much as I can every single day every practice every single lift. It’s definitely pretty awesome having that now, having that scholarship now,” Henningsen said.
It’s something Henningsen’s family is celebrating.
“Called my parents afterwards and it was just awesome, just a great time — a moment I wouldn’t trade for anything,” said Henningsen. “They were just ecstatic, my mom was tearing up and it was just an awesome experience.”
Like most accolades and accomplishments for Henningsen, don’t expect the scholarship to go to his head.
“We are still not where we want to be yet, that’s for sure,” said Henningsen.
Henningsen is also earning straight A’s in the classroom.
Wisconsin’s next game is Saturday, Sept. 21 at Camp Randall against Michigan.