January 13, 2017 – Happy Birthday Tony Henderson

Michigan Football Team 1994 | bigbluefootballhistory.com
Tony Henderson (#79)shown here with the 1994 Michigan Wolverine Football Team. He is seated in the first row and is the third man from the left. Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Today is a great day to wish a Happy Birthday to Tony Henderson.  Tony Henderson was born on this day in Indianapolis, Indiana. He grew up to be an outstanding high school football player at North Central High School in Indianapolis. He was heavily recruited by many top schools, but he decided to be a “Michigan Man.” After reading Bruce Madej’s article, it sounds like Tony never regretted his decision to become a Wolverine.

Technically, Tony Henderson was recruited by Bo Schembechler’s staff. However, when Tony arrived in Ann Arbor he was going to play for Coach Gary Moeller. It didn’t matter to Henderson, he probably would have loved to play for Bo, but Mo was okay too! Tony Henderson burned his red-shirt in 1990 so he could get established at Michigan and learn the Moeller version of Wolverine Football.

Tony Henderson | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Tony Henderson came from Indianapolis, Indiana to be a “Michigan Man” and that’s exactly what he did! Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Tony Henderson must have been a fast learner because he started two games at middle guard as a red-shirt Freshman in 1991. He logged enough playing-time to earn his first varsity letter on a team that finished with an overall record of 10 wins and 2 losses. More importantly, Michigan won their fourth consecutive Big Ten title in 1991 with a record of 8-0-0.

Michigan continued to play well in 1992 and so did Tony Henderson. Tony started eleven games that season and made a ton of tackles. He was becoming a force in the middle for the Wolverines. His strong play helped Michigan go undefeated in 1992 with a record of 9-0-3. Again, the Wolverines were Big Ten champs for the fifth consecutive year. Oh, by the way, Tony’s excellent play did not go unnoticed. He won the Frederick Matthaei Award for his leadership, drive and outstanding work on the field and in the classroom. Wow! Tony must have been flying high as he looked forward to his last two years at Michigan.

Tony Henderson came back in 1993 and was ready for his best season. Unfortunately, a leg injury limited him to only three starts. He did play enough to earn his third varsity letter, but the 1993 season had to be a disappointment for Tony and his teammates. The Wolverines slipped to a record of 8-4-0 in 1993 and finished fourth in the conference. That was a shocker!

Tony Henderson in Action | bigbluefootballhistory.com

Tony Henderson (left) wraps up another ball-carrier with a little help from his Wolverine friend! Photo courtesy of the Bentley Historical Library.

Tony’s fifth year at Michigan was a lot like his fourth, except he did not lose as much time to injuries as he did in 1993. Henderson started eight more games for the Wolverines at middle guard and earned his fourth varsity letter. Once again, Michigan finished with an overall record of 8-4-0 and went 5-3-0 in the Big Ten Conference.

Although Tony Henderson’s career did not finish as well as it started, he had a good run in Ann Arbor from 1990 to 1994. In addition to making twenty-four starts and earning four varsity letters, he was a proud member of three Big Ten Championship teams. He earned some special recognition when he was named the Matthaei Award winner in 1992. In addition to his solid career at Michigan, Tony Henderson was also part of some important Michigan football “firsts.” Check them out:

·         Played on the first Gary Moeller Team in 1990 (and the last four as well).

·         Was a member of Gary Moeller’s first Big Ten Championship Team (1990).

·         Played on Gary Moeller’s first and only losing bowl team (1992).

·         Played on Gary Moeller’s first and only undefeated team (9-0-3) in 1992.

·         Played on Gary Moeller’s first and only top 5 ranked team (5th in AP Poll and 5th in CNN/USA Coaches Poll) in 1992.

·         Played on Gary Moeller’s first and only Rose Bowl winner in January 1993.

Tony Henderson did not play in the National Football League, but he was good enough to play nine years of Arena League Football. Check out the details in Bruce Madej’s article linked below.

Today is a good day to remember the contributions of Tony Henderson to Michigan Football. He, and his teammates, contributed forty-four wins to the all-time Wolverine victory total. They also won four of five bowl games which is something that no other group of Michigan football players can say. Thanks for the Maize and Blue memories Tony Henderson. I hope you enjoy your special day today. Go Blue!


Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher

Barry Gallagher is a self-proclaimed Michigan Football Archeologist. He spends a considerable amount of his time digging into the 138-year history of Wolverine Football. He is on a mission to share his findings with Maize and Blue football fans everywhere. He is the author of one book about Michigan Football titled "21-194-13 Michigan Football's Greatest Era". His second book titled, "The Legend of Bo Schembechler-How an Unknown Buckeye Became the Winningest Coach in Michigan Football History" was released on September 12, 2017. You can learn something about Michigan Football everyday by going to his website at: bigbluefootballhistory.com. You can also follow him on Social Media.
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