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Michigan WR AJ Henning signs NIL deal with White Sox

Michigan WR AJ Henning signs NIL deal with White Sox
Michigan wide receiver and Illinois native AJ Henning landed an NIL deal with his home state Chicago White Sox, one of eight college athletes to do so. (Credit: Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press/USA TODAY NETWORK)

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (BVM) – University of Michigan junior wide receiver AJ Henning is an Illinois kid through and through. Growing up in Frankfort, Illinois, Henning excelled on the gridiron for Lincoln-Way East High School where he helped the Griffins to two state titles including an undefeated campaign during his senior year in 2019. This made Henning one of the most endearing Illinoisborn players in the country, regardless of sport, and one of his home state MLB teams took notice.

On Aug. 17, the Chicago White Sox announced their first-ever name, image and likeness deals with collegiate student-athletes, revealing eight new ambassadors for the franchise. Henning was among them and the fit seems to be a match made in heaven.

With the White Sox, Henning will receive “top tier branding opportunities, including financial incentives, access to professional resources from a renowned MLB franchise and personalized career mentorship from leading sports executives,” according to the team website. In addition, Henning will also get a professional photoshoot at an iconic Chicagoland sports venue, a ceremonial first pitch and one-time private suite and a customized White Sox jersey and additional merchandise.

In return, Henning will use his social media presence to draw attention to the White Sox brand. With over 437,000 followers across Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, the per post value of the Michigan receiver is $1.6K according to On3.com. His trajectory with the Michigan Wolverines could become even more lucrative this fall.

Henning was one of the top recruits in the country when he came out of Lincoln-Way East. Finishing his senior season with 29 total touchdowns, Henning was selected as the state’s Gatorade Player of the Year and the Chicago Sun-Times’ Player of the Year. The 5-foot-10, 185-pound receiver was rated the No. 102 player in the nation in the Class of 2020 in 247Sports’ Composite Rankings, putting him in the elite ESPN300.

The speedster ultimately chose Michigan over other top programs including Georgia, Notre Dame and Penn State. It didn’t take long for the star wideout to make his first appearance at Michigan.

During the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, Henning appeared in all six of Michigan’s games and even earned a start at receiver. The freshman finished the season with three carries for 15 yards, six catches for 59 yards.

AJ Henning University of Michigan return man and wide receiver
Henning has established himself as a strong playmaker early in his time in Ann Arbor. (Credit: Junfu Han/Detroit Free Press/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Last season is when Henning truly broke out. As the Wolverines’ primary return man, Henning recorded 29 punt returns for 274 yards and seven kickoff returns for 177 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Henning also saw some time with the Michigan offense, catching 10 passes for 79 yards while getting nine carries for 162 yards and two scores. For his performance, Henning earned All-Big Ten third team honors as a return man from both the coaches and media.

The Chicagoland native has now landed an opportunity to show off his home state pride. Given his strong performance a year ago, expectations should be high for this electrifying return man. For the White Sox, they invested in a player who is just now beginning to hit his stride while Henning himself gets to represent where he is from in one of the best ways possible.

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