Better Know A Badger: Michael Furtney
Wisconsin's 2018 signing class will be joining the team full-time in June, so BadgerBlitz.com will be checking in with the team's incoming freshmen as they make the jump from being high school prospects to a Wisconsin student-athlete.
Michael Furtney, a three-star offensive lineman from Milan, Mich., spoke with BadgerBlitz.com about how he's feeling now that his career with the Badgers is right around the corner. Our questions and his answers are included below.
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How did it feel to make your commitment to Wisconsin official and send in your letter of intent a few months ago? Did it feel like a relief to finish things up, or was it more exciting?
Michael Furtney: It was great. It wasn’t a feeling like things were over, it was like you were moving on to the next stage. And that phase is something so exciting, going to Madison to play for the Badgers. It was a really surreal feeling. It kind of made it all real for me. For the longest time it just felt like a dream, me going to play for the University of Wisconsin. That was something that made it all real, and it was awesome.
Did that make you change what you focused on or anything like that?
Michael Furtney: I definitely think it did take a bit of a weight off, but it also kind of made me more focused. It was like ‘Ok, you’re signed, it’s serious, this is coming soon. You need to lock down more.’ I was already focused, but you need to take that next step of being prepared to go and do the real thing.
Do you remember what it was that put the Badgers over the top for you in the end? Or if they were your leader for a while, why did they stand out to you so much from the start?
Michael Furtney: It wasn’t anything that happened in the end, it was what happened in the beginning for me. From the very beginning I had a love for Madison and the Badgers. And through my whole recruiting process all I had ever done - even when I didn’t have an offer from them and I was getting offers from other places - I never could find a place that was better. They were always the school that I would measure other schools against. There’s no place that could even come close. And close to the end I had visited all of the schools that I was interested in and none of them even compared to Wisconsin. They had shown that with me being the only scholarship linemen in the class … and them not offering many other offensive linemen at all they showed their commitment to me and I knew it was time for me to return the favor.
Was it hard to not just commit on the spot when they offered you that scholarship, then? Or did you know you needed to take some time and process everything?
Michael Furtney: It was within two weeks. In that time I did a few last visits and then at the end I came down and visited UW two times in one week, and the second one was when I committed. I was actually in a mall parking lot on the phone with coach Rudolph when he offered me a scholarship and I was ready to commit right on the spot there in the car. But it was one of those things where I told myself to kind of relax. It is my dream, but I also like to check every base. I didn’t want to make a decision that I would possibly regret. And I know there won’t be one with Wisconsin because I did my homework and made sure there wouldn’t be any problems. It’s all about relaxing and making a smart, focused decision.
Is there a moment from your high school career that you'll remember even after you go off to college?
Michael Furtney: I can’t say there was a specific moment, it was just a culmination of everything. I have a really close bond with all of my teammates in high school, on and off the field. I think I’ll remember all of those bonding experiences with them - whether it was during a two-a-day or during the middle of a game. It feels like those small moments you have with your brothers out there, those will be the ones I’ll cherish.
Do you remember when you realized that you had a legitimate chance to play Division 1 football? Was it when you got your first offer, or maybe going to a camp somewhere?
Michael Furtney: I got my first offer from Eastern Michigan. Getting that first offer was definitely … I thought during the whole recruiting process and the summer before that I didn’t get any offers. I was kind of wondering ‘Am I a Division 1 player? Or am I a better fit for Division 2 or 3? I had people tell me all sorts of things. But once I got that offer from Eastern it was kind of like ‘Wow, I can really be a Division 1 player.’
Who is your favorite offensive lineman to watch, either from college or the NFL?
Michael Furtney: Joe Thomas was always the guy for me. Being an offensive lineman, he’s a person who set an example for who an offensive lineman should be. Every lineman should look at him and try to be like him. He has great knowledge of the game and great work ethic, and he had a great ability to take care of his body and play at a high level for so long. That’s just amazing to me.
Was Joe Thomas kind of the guy who opened the door about Wisconsin to you? Or did they catch your eye on the field in other ways?
Michael Furtney: I grew up kind of being a U of M fan, but I always had a lot of respect for Wisconsin. They reminded me of my high school team - they always play tough. They might not always have the highest rated players, but they always play the hardest. We always looked at them as tough, hard-working guys who get after it every day on the field. And you know that to play that hard in games they have to practice hard too. That was something that stood out to me even before I was in the recruiting process.
Do you have any goals for yourself for your first year on campus with the Badgers? What do you want to have accomplished by this time next year?
Michael Furtney: My goal is a pretty general goal, I guess. But I just want to be a sponge. I want to absorb all the knowledge that I can. I want to go there with an open mind and a good work ethic and make sure I leave no stone unturned. I want to get all of the help I can get from the coaches, the players, the strength staff, and make sure that I become the best possible player that I can be in the time that I’m given.
John Veldhuis covers Wisconsin football, basketball and recruiting for BadgerBlitz.com on the Rivals.com network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnVeldhuis.