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Michael Furtney ready to sign early, grow at Wisconsin

An extended profile of the lone scholarship offensive lineman in the class of 2018.

Michael Furtney/Furtney family

Watching Michael Furtney’s senior year highlights, you get a sense of what the three-star offensive lineman could bring to the Wisconsin Badgers as he moved defenders and opened upon holes for Milan High School’s offense.

One of his future teammates knows, nearly firsthand.

“That dude is physical,” fellow Michigan native and Wisconsin 2018 commit Reggie Pearson said on Monday.

The all-state prep safety should know about Furtney. Along with their verbal commitments to the Badgers, the two almost played each other.

“He’s going to pull and whoever is right there is going to get hurt,” Pearson said. “That’s a big, big kid. You can’t just teach size like that. That dude is huge, and he’s not slow, either.”

“They had him at fullback. He barely played guard in that game that I watched. It was definitely a scary sight, and [I’m] happy I’m not playing him.”

Furtney verbally committed to Wisconsin back in March and is the only projected scholarship offensive lineman in this Badgers’ class.

Heading to Madison in the summer, he is taking advantage of the opportunity to sign on Wednesday during the early signing period. The relationship with the coaching staff grew during a summer camp before his junior year in 2016.

“Well from the very first time I visited Wisconsin, I went to a camp and right at that moment, me and Coach Rudolph really clicked from a player-coach connection, where like he’d talk and I just absorbed everything he said,” Furtney said on Dec. 16.

“Obviously that was awesome, which I really enjoyed that camp, and also getting to talk to Coach Rudolph, because getting to talk to coaches is great.”

According to Furtney, who is listed at 6’5 and 280 pounds on his Hudl profile, “an overwhelming amount of positives” led to his decision to commit to Wisconsin on March 14 after receiving offers from the likes of Nebraska, Michigan State, Virginia and Missouri, among many other FBS programs.

“I couldn’t find a single negative about Wisconsin,” Furtney said. “I loved every single part of it and had everything I was looking for in a college, so I kind of just realized that it’s not going to get any better than what they’re offering me.”

Furtney and Pearson are among the five Michigan-based players to sign with Wisconsin in this class of 2018, with Pearson committing back in August 2016. Alongside the three other Michigan standouts—athlete Jaylan Franklin (Rockwood Oscar A. Carlson) and wide receivers A.J. Abbott and Taj Mustapha (West Bloomfield)—they have a specific nickname for the group.

No, the moniker is not necessarily reminiscent of the “Fab Five” of early 1990s lore from the Michigan men’s basketball team compromising of Chris Webber, Jalen Rose, Jimmy King, Ray Jackson or Juwan Howard.

Rather, they refer to themselves as “The M-5,” and Furtney believes they put forth a blue-collar mentality.

“We all just go after it, whatever we set our minds to, we put our heads down and we just work for it,” Furtney said. “We give it everything we got, for football especially, but whether it’s grades anything in our lives, stuff like that, we just go to work. That’s definitely one thing I can say to sum up kind of our group.”

Wisconsin’s coaching staff in this current class of 2018 has recruited the Wolverine State well in finding these five players who fit what the program is looking for with its student-athletes.

It appears UW is attempting to influence more within Michigan. Last year, safety Scott Nelson decided to come to Wisconsin, and reserve offensive lineman David Moorman signed back in 2015. Looking ahead to the class of 2019, highly-touted four-star offensive tackle Logan Brown committed to the Badgers on November 19.

Furtney remembered one of UW’s assistants saying the distance Michigan and Wisconsin is about six hours.

“We know Wisconsin is a good team, but we haven’t seen Madison, haven’t seen Camp Randall, everything like that,” Furtney said. “One of the coaches said to me one time our main goal when it comes to kids in Michigan is to just get them in the door. We want them to be able to come out here and for us to show them everything we have. So I feel like they’re doing a really good job of getting us all out there, and it’s kind of like for us for realizing how great of a place it is.”

Furtney said his signing at the school will include his former and current coaches, family, friends and even youth football coaches. He will then play in the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl on Dec. 29 in New Orleans before enjoying his final semester at Milan and making his way west to Madison during the summer.

According to Furtney, it appears he could start at tackle at Wisconsin, but offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Joe Rudolph told him he views his future pupil as a player who could play any position on the line.

Furtney believes he can improve on “every aspect” of his game, and once he gets to Madison, Rudolph and his coaching staff’s resume of generating skilled linemen will help him at the next level.

“I don’t feel like I could ever get good enough at really anything,” Furtney said, “but I feel like at Wisconsin—as obviously I feel but also what the statistics say, one of the best lineman universities in the nation—I feel like it can help me in all aspects, whether that’s technique, my strength, my play recognition, reading a defense, things like that.”

2018 OT Michael Furtney (top row, third from right) on his official visit to Wisconsin in early December.
Michael Furtney/Furtney family

An official visit in early December allowed Furtney to meet many of his classmates, which appeared to be 16 of the 19 verbal commits a couple of weekends ago. It also gave him the opportunity to get to know them on “a whole new level personally.”

Combine that with his praise of the Wisconsin coaching staff, who he was able to connect with as well, and it is not hard to see Furtney’s fit in Madison.

“I swear every time I talk to these coaches, I like them even more,” Furtney said, “which is saying a lot because from the moment I’ve first met this coaching staff, I’ve thought extremely high of them. I feel like they’re the best coaching staff in the nation.”