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November 11, 2011

The mark of a leader

MADISON - Opportunity doesn't care about a given situation. In fact, opportunity is a selfish entity in and of itself.

No matter when that 11-letter word arises somebody is always going to take it or regret not taking it. There really isn't an in between.

Aaron Henry sides with the prior. Following back-to-back losses in absolute gut-wrenching fashion earlier this season, the fifth-year senior seized an opportunity prior to UW's game against Purdue.

He had something to say.

"I was just fed up," Henry said. "I was just tired of us losing. There comes a time where you're just sick and tired about what's going on and you're got to do something about it. I correlated it with some of the things that my mom was going through early on in my life.

"I just wanted the players to see my perspective."

It's a perspective that people respect. It's a perspective straight from the heart and one that means an incredible amount to a guy that holds his family tight to his vest. A man of incredible faith, Henry has never been afraid to share his story.

He's never been afraid to relay the things he's experienced throughout his life, the adversity he's seen in his home and on the football field and the general life lessons he's been able to adhere to throughout his time in Madison.

When that opportunity came about Henry didn't have a choice. He didn't mean to bring the misfortune his mom has endured throughout her life into the speech, but that type of story was relatable.

"I just wanted to let the guys know that enough is enough," he said. "There comes a time where you're just sick and tired about what's going on and you've got to do something about it.

"It got pretty emotional."

Russell Wilson has been a part of the Wisconsin family for just a handful of months, but one of the closer relationships he's established throughout his time in Madison is with Henry.

Henry was the man that sat down over lunch with Wilson during his recruiting visit and he's also the one that hit it off with the highly sought after recruit. So when the fifth-year senior spoke in front of the team it really hit home.

"We're blessed to be in this opportunity," Wilson said. "Do not settle. Keep pushing. Being a captain with Aaron is truly a blessing just to get to know him and get to know what he's been through.

"He's a great leader."

Wisconsin went on to beat Purdue 62-17 following Henry's speech. It improved its record to 7-2 on the season and sits pretty well in the 'Leaders' division title race. Should the Badgers win the rest of their games, all games they'll be favored in, they'll need both Penn State and Ohio State to lose one game each.

With that, UW will receive an opportunity to return to Pasadena and make up for the shortfalls of a season ago.

"Different people benefit in different ways," Henry said. "Somebody might hear something that I've gone through and they might be going through something similar. I wanted guys to understand that when you're sick and tired of something you can't just let it continue to happen.

"You've got to fight back. That was the only message I was trying to convey to them."


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