Badger bound

By Balinda Zimmerman


Signing to a D1 college is a big deal for most athletes but signing to a D1 college for a football player is astronomical because the requirements are near impossible for most athletes. On Wednesday, December 20,2017, the first day for National Signing for 2018, Milan offensive lineman, Michael Furtney, signed his letter of commitment to Wisconsin State. The Badgers Football website reported twenty-six football recruits for 2018, with eighteen of those being scholarship commits who signed early. Michigan has no had more than seven previous commits to Wisconsin and this year a record five Michigan players committed.

The Milan High School boardroom was overflowing when Furtney sat down to sign his commitment letter. Players from both Varsity and JV football teams, a number of basketball players, friends, parents, grandparents, and great grandparents all attended to celebrate with Michael.

When asked if he felt any different after signing, he said, “It has been a dream all my life and this (signing) solidifies it and makes it all real. His father, Matt Furtney, got him interested in football as a four year old and he says his dad has been the most influential coach he has had to date.

Michael explained the pull to Wisconsin for him was the campus atmosphere and more importantly the family-like atmosphere of the coaching staff. He felt comfortable the first time he visited during a camp before his junior year and was given the steps he needed to take to obtain a football career with the Badgers. He had shared with his girlfriend, Clair, shortly after his first visit, “I felt like it was personal. Other schools were looking at a lot of kids (for their line recruits) and Wisconsin was only looking at one for the O Line recruit and it was me. It is like they treated me like family.” His mother, Ellen, reiterated the family atmosphere and camaraderie during the times spent with the coaching staff and families of the incoming recruits.

They have spent time together during several visits and events, gotten to know each other and even message back and forth between the other recruit families in a group chat. She said of the staff, “They are a great group of coaches and I am excited to have them turn him into a better man and football player. They have some of the same goals as we do.”

During 2017, Wisconsin head coach, Paul Chryst, has led the Badgers to their first undefeated season in 105 years. When asked how he felt about going into Wisconsin after an undefeated season Michael explained, “I was very excited that they went undefeated this year. When I committed I didn’t know how their record would be and I honestly didn’t care. I knew that I wanted to be a part of that program no matter how their record was this year.”

Michael traveled to New Orleans on December 26, 2017 in preparation for playing in the Offense/Defense The 88 Bowl game for new college recruits nationwide. He trained with other players from around the nation for only 3 days before the game on the 29th with nationwide coverage.

By the time you read this, the game will have already taken place. Michael had several invitations to play in various national bowl games as a D1 recruit but for personal reasons he chose to play only in The 88 Bowl.

Balinda Zimmerman is owner/operator at Milan Memories by Minna, and a freelance writer for the Milan Eagle News. She can be reached atbalindaz [at] comcast [dot] net

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