The Unsung Hero of Tight End U Leaves His Legacy

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO Staff) In his four years on the Hill, Mitchell Henry led by example as he built a quiet legacy of hard work. On Tuesday, Henry has been remembered for his outstanding football career at WKU by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes with the Mitchell Henry Leadership Award.

Work ethic, leadership, and character were three values that were very close to Henry’s heart. These will be the three factors that will determine which four WKU student-athletes will be awarded these honors.

The four athletes will consist of two football players, who will be honored in the fall, and two non-football players, who have been honored this spring. The Fellowship of Christian Athletes, or FCA, picked golfer Dawson McDaniel and softball outfielder, Kelsey McGuffin, as the spring award winners.

Later this spring, the four student-athletes will have the chance to be awarded a scholarship during the Hilltopper Legacy Dinner. They will also be honored by a mural in Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium that will display each award winner.

WKU Associate Athletic Director For Athletic Communicatons Kyle Neaves looked at Henry as a model for what Hilltopper athletes should aspire to be. He said, “We tell our players that it doesn’t matter where you came from, or what you did, it matters now and what you do with that opportunity. You would look at Mitch and never say ‘this is never an all-conference caliber tight end.’ But he worked harder than anybody and perfected his craft better than anybody.”

Henry came to Western Kentucky as a relatively unknown prospect from Elizabethtown High School. He worked his way up the ranks at tight end, and eventually became a pillar of a football program that has earned the title Tight End U. From 2011-2014, Henry accumulated over 1,000 yards, 12 touchdowns, and helped WKU to their first FBS bowl victory in his senior season.

Fellowship of Christian Athletes Director, Wayne Dickens, described the reasoning behind the creation of the award. He said, “With the Mitchell Henry Leadership Award, we wanted to try and find a way to continue to tell the story of Mitchell’s life as well as inspire a new generation of Hilltoppers to leave similar legacies here on the Hill and in their lives after their playing days are over.”

Following his career at WKU, Henry worked his way to the NFL signing free agent deals with the Green Bay Packers, Denver Broncos, and the Baltimore Ravens. He was even awarded for his efforts with the Broncos as he saw the field in two regular season games with Denver. His career was cut short, though, after being diagnosed with leukemia before passing away in 2017.

He will be remembered by Hilltopper fans as the workhorse who helped WKU to glory. His family, though, will remember him for his outstanding Christian faith. His wife, Madison Henry, said, “In his last moments on this earth, I can promise it doesn’t matter what NFL team you played for or how many touchdowns you made, the only thing that matters is that you are saved by the grace of God.”

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