This is the second in a series of profiles on the top 15 players on The Detroit News Blue Chip list. Today: No. 14, Milan offensive lineman Michael Furtney.
Michael Furtney made the transition from a tight end his sophomore year at Milan to a dominant offensive lineman, now set to move on to Wisconsin to play for the national power Badgers next fall.
Furtney helped Milan to a pair of nine-win seasons his sophomore and junior seasons, then another state playoff appearance in his final year where he played H-back, at times, when asked to play the position by coach Jesse Hoskins.
“I feel I’ve improved the most in two places, I worked a lot on my technique which is something that I didn’t have the most experience in my junior year since I just started playing offensive line my sophomore year,” Furtney said. “My leadership is something I also put an emphasis on my senior year since I was one of the captains, just wanted to lead everybody in the right direction.”
Furtney played tight end at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds as a sophomore, moving to tackle halfway through the season. He played at tackle his junior year before playing both tackle and H-back his senior season.
So, what was Furtney’s size his senior year?
“I played at 6-foot-5½ and 290 pounds,” Furtney said.
So, what could he bench his sophomore season?
“I could bench 200 my sophomore year, now can bench a little over 350,” said Furtney, who noted that he could now bench 225 pounds 20 times.
Furtney has matured both physically and mentally and plans to continue with his growth at Wisconsin. Hoskins feels he will fit in perfectly.
“Mike fits the Wisconsin culture,” Hoskins said. “He is tough, has room to grow and will push every day to be successful. Milan couldn’t ask for a better representative of our community.
“Mike played H back for half the season on offense so we could get him involved in as many plays as possible. On defense, despite teams running away from him Mike had 82 tackles, 10 tackles for loss. He played every special team except kick offs and set the wedge for four kickoff returns for touchdowns.”
Furtney enjoyed playing H back — catching three passes and scoring on a 2-point run — and defense, but is looking forward to playing tackle at Wisconsin.
“It was kind of like a throwback to when I was a tight end, similar to that, but my coach said, ‘Michael I need you to play this position for me,’ and I played H back since we had another guy ready to step up and play offensive line and that happened all across our team because of a variety of reasons,” Furtney said. “I had the chance to catch a few passes, but that’s not likely to happen in college so it was kind of cool to have as one of my last experiences, but I’m definitely excited to go back to the offensive line.”
Furtney can’t wait to head to Wisconsin, a program that sends many offensive linemen to the NFL, including first-round picks Travis Frederick (2013, Cowboys), Kevin Zeitler (2012, Bengals), and Joe Thomas (2007, Browns).
“I just feel like I’m going to the best O-linemen university in the nation and it’s not just me saying that because I’m a recruit there, I’m saying that because of how many people they’ve put in the NFL,” Furtney said. “I’ll be in with an amazing coaching staff, an amazing atmosphere and a great playing environment. I feel my potential is determined by me because you get what you put into it.
“I feel Wisconsin provides me with every opportunity that I’ll need and now I need to go and work hard and that’s one thing I’ve always prided myself on, striving myself to be the best in the room. I wanted to have a coaching staff that cares about his players. They are a great group of guys who I know I can rely on since it’s such a family atmosphere, and we’ve had a bond like a family everywhere I’ve been before.”
Furtney has a 4.0 grade-point average and plans to go to Wisconsin’s School of Business.
“Really, Wisconsin has everything I could have ever asked for,” Furtney said. “I wanted a good atmosphere and a great education, and Wisconsin has a great football program, like they’re a top-10 team nationally this year and that’s amazing.
“Coach (Paul) Chryst is probably one of the greatest, not only coaches, but also guy that I’ve ever met. I’ve also developed a great relationship with coach (Joe) Rudolph, the offensive coordinator and offensive line coach, and I think the world of him.”
BLUE CHIP PROFILES