Bridgeton High School senior Sean Henigin decided Wednesday that he was going to attend Rutgers University as a preferred walk-on to the football team.

On Thursday, Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano resigned after 11 seasons to become coach of the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

"When I first heard about it, my midget-league coach, Al Solanik, texted me and said 'Wow, you already made an impact there,' " Henigin said. "I thought that was kind of funny."

Despite Schiano's departure, Henigin, 18, is still excited at the chance to play for Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights announced that Kyle Flood, an associate head coach and offensive-line coach under Schiano, would be the interim head coach.

"I don't blame coach Schiano," Henigin said. "It's a great opportunity. The same way that I'm getting ready to take the next step in my career, he took his next step into his. It's definitely going to be different not having (him) up there. But I'm sure that we're going to find the right coach for us and we'll move on with it."

The 6-foot-8, 330-pound tackle was a first-team Press All-Star in 2010 and 2011 and a second-team pick in 2009. He helped the Bulldogs go 6-4 last season.

Henigin said several other NCAA Division I schools, including Duke and North Carolina, had recruited him. When he made his decision on Rutgers, it was too late to be considered for a scholarship, so he was accepted as a preferred walk-on. His freshman year will be covered by financial aid, and he will be eligible for a scholarship in 2013.

Henigin said that when he informed Rutgers that he would be attending in the fall, the university made plans for him to visit again and scheduled for paperwork to be filled out.

"It's a relief," Henigin said. "All my stones are in one basket and I can just move forward. I'm looking forward to that."

Bridgeton coach Dave Ellen said he thinks Henigin will thrive in a situation different than the one he had in high school.

"I think it's going to be good for him," Ellen said. "I think he'll be in a situation where he has to prove himself. He came in (to Bridgeton) as a freshman and started right away. It's gonna be a little different scenario up there. I think when you put somebody in that situation there's only two ways to react, and he's going to react the right away and go at it."

Henigin said that staying in his home state was "definitely important" for him when considering colleges.

"It's definitely a program with some history. ... My family will be able to come visit whenever they want," he said.

Ellen said he thinks that Henigin made a good choice.

"I'm happy for him," Ellen said. "I think in his mind he's settled. He has had a great (high school) career, and now he's going to get an opportunity at the highest level."

Contact Jeff Sporer:

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