“I’m going to do whatever I got to do:” Hennigan leads Mountaineers by example

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Courtesy App State Athletics

Senior wide receiver Thomas Hennigan has started every game for the Mountaineers since he stepped foot on campus. Hennigan was voted one of six App State captains in 2020 by his teammates.

Connor Davidson, Reporter

When senior wide receiver Thomas Hennigan first came to App State, he was a quiet yet determined player. Now, he serves as one of the team’s six captains after spending the last three seasons becoming a better player and more determined leader.

“This program, there’s just so much tradition, so many great men have been captains here and it’s an honor to even be recognized as one at such an elite program,” Hennigan said. “But with that, there comes responsibility to call out things that I see that need to be called out on.”

During his first year at App State, Hennigan kept his head down for the most part, and his main focus was improving his abilities as a player. In the years that followed, he quickly became more reliable as a teammate.

“When he came in, he was a bit quieter,” senior quarterback Jacob Huesman said. “He knew his role, but he came in and he did it well … I think his biggest point of emphasis through his growth specifically was being a captain and helping out the younger guys.”

Hennigan has started every game since his freshman year, and his stats accumulated since then compare to some of the best receivers to ever play for the Mountaineers. Heading into this year, the senior is tied for seventh in App State history with 14 career touchdown receptions, and ninth in receptions with 135.

Hennigan’s season looks different for a more personal reason, too. He’s playing without star wide receiver Corey Sutton, who opted out of the season in August. This shake up among the receivers has not made Hennigan lose sight of the team’s bigger goals.

“With Corey not here, it takes away a big threat on the outside,” Hennigan said. “I’m going to miss Corey, and I wish him all the best, but at the same time, we have a championship to go win.”

Because Sutton is out for the year, Hennigan is now the first option on passing plays and gets more attention from opposing defenses. In the season opener against Charlotte, Hennigan recorded one of his best games as a Mountaineer with a 120-yard, one-touchdown performance. Although he is capable of strong performances, Hennigan is aware that he may not have the same performance every week.

“Every defense is different,” Hennigan said. “Certain weeks, certain schemes set up better for outside receivers where like Charlotte, it really worked out for me to get involved in the passing game.” 

Hennigan’s role has also changed during games. He is still out on the field making plays as a receiver, but he also constantly works and communicates with others around him to make sure the team is playing at its best. 

“He plays the position so well because he can see more than just running a route and catching the ball. He sees the other things; how the safety’s playing over, how the corner’s playing him and how he’s playing it,” Huesman said.

During a year of college football surrounded by so much uncertainty, Hennigan’s focus is set on making sure he and those around him are doing everything they can to ensure the team’s success.

“I’m going to do whatever I got to do, along with all the other ten guys on the field, to do whatever it takes to win,” Hennigan said. “I’ve always been a ‘lead by example’ kind of guy, so (if I) do the right things on and off the field, naturally I think the younger guys will follow.”