Willie Henry struggled with the decision to leave Michigan with a year of eligibility remaining, but decided to move on to the NFL and realized a dream when he was selected during the final day of the draft.
Henry was selected by the Baltimore Ravens Saturday in the fourth round in an NFL draft deep in defensive lineman prospects. Henry played for Jim Harbaugh at Michigan this past season and will play for John Harbaugh, coach of the Ravens.
“It’s going to be great,” Henry told the Baltimore Sun when asked about playing for another Harbaugh. “Two great coaches who know what they’re talking about and have great schemes.
“I can’t wait to go play for another coach Harbaugh. Right now, I’m just ecstatic.”
Graham Glasgow was the first former Michigan player selected in the NFL draft, going to the Detroit Lions in the third round.
Michigan has not had a last first-round selection since Taylor Lewan in 2014, and before that it was Brandon Graham in 2010. Last season, Devin Funchess and Frank Clark were taken in the second round.
Among the former Wolverines draft hopefuls are quarterback Jake Rudock, who led Michigan to a 10-3 record and had an MVP performance in the Citrus Bowl. Rudock spent his graduate season playing at Michigan after starting two seasons at Iowa.
Last week, ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper said he believes defensive lineman Mario Ojemudia could be a Day 3 selection. Former linebackers Joe Bolden, Desmond Morgan and James Ross also are hoping to be picked up in free agency if not drafted, as are fullbacks Joe Kerridge and Sione Houma and safety Jarrod Wilson.
Henry last month after Michigan’s Pro Day touted himself as the best defensive lineman in the draft “hands down.” The 6-foot-3, 297-pound Henry has said he would be a catch for any team because of ability to play both the run and pass well.
He is 17 credits shy of his Michigan degree and said he wrestled with the decision to leave with a year of eligibility remaining. He said there was a strong pull to stay at Michigan but found the NFL opportunity difficult to pass up this year.
“I’m not one to be selfish,” Henry said last month. “Those were some things I was fighting with.”
Henry told the Baltimore Sun he also credits Ted Ginn Sr., his high school coach at Glenville High in Cleveland, for his football success.
“You know Glenville is a great foundation to come from that high school,” Henry told the Sun. “Coach Ginn and his staff do a great job coaching young guys from the inner city of Cleveland and sending these guys to college. It’s changing people’s lives.”