Husar turns up standing tall at Air Force
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Husar turns up standing tall at Air Force

If you want to make an argument for what’s missing from big-time college football recruiting, you could start with Michael Husar Jr.

  1. He’s the son of a Michigan 1988 All-Big Ten offensive lineman that played for Bo Schembechler, Michael Husar Sr.
  2. He’s a strong student that turned down Ivy League schools.
  3. He’s started 19 straight games as a Football Bowl Subdivision offensive lineman the past two years; he’d be a three-year starter were it not for a season-ending knee injury as a sophomore in the 2012 opener.

But all of the above was negated in the minds of Michigan and other FBS schools by one factor: he stands only 6 foot.

“My junior and senior year I was definitely interested,” said Husar of following in his father’s footsteps. “But when the time came, I didn’t get much traction in recruiting. I knew I was too short.”

Michigan’s loss – not to mention any other FBS school – was Air Force’s gain.

Ironically, one criticism of Michigan’s talent in a disappointing 5-5 season is the Wolverines’ highly recruited athletes aren’t playing up to their potential. Meanwhile, the academies thrive on over-achieving players such as Husar, who can move people with 270 pounds packed onto his frame.

“It’s really worked out for me,” Husar said. “Coming to the academy has been the best decision for me. I wouldn’t change it for the world. My Dad comes to all the games and loves it. They ran the ball all the time when he was at Michigan, and he likes how we pound the ball.”

Even Husar’s injury worked out for him in the long run, despite the arduous task for rehabbing torn knee ligaments to get back on the field. He was cleared to return to the academy for a ninth semester for the 2014 season.

With Air Force having bounced back from last year’s 2-10 record to stand 7-2, earn bowl eligibility and an invitation to the White House as winners of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy, Husar has been along for the ride he otherwise would have missed. Air Force defeated Navy 30-21 and Army 23-6 in the round-robin series.

“That will be awesome,” Husar said of the spring visit. “Never in my life did I think I’d be going to the White House to meet the President.”

Air Force last won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy in 2011 when Husar was a freshman, but only seniors get to make the trip to the White House for the trophy ceremony.

“A lot of people said I was nuts to come back for a ninth semester, given the challenging environment of the academy,” he said. “But I’m not sure I’m ready to leave. It’s been awesome here. I’ve been truly blessed to attend the academy, to play with great guys, for great coaches and the opportunity to serve my country.”

Unlike other seniors, Husar already has his assignment. He’s a biology major who will work with the space program at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

But Husar and his teammates still have four games to play – three to finish the regular season and a bowl trip. Husar, named Rimington Award watch list for the nation’s top center and selected as a mid-season All-Mountain West pick by Phil Steele Magazine, has helped Air Force revive its offense.

The Falcons are averaging 282.4 yards rushing and 151.4 passing for 433.9 per game. The rushing average ranks eighth in the nation. In last week’s 48-21 win at UNLV, Air Force rushed for 386 yards and 542 total yards.

“When we grade out film with the coaches, we’re looking for how many perfect plays when all five guys are doing their job on that play and getting people on the ground,” Husar said. “That’s what we’ve been gauging our performances on.”

Playing football, benefitting from the academics and the chance to serve his country in the space program has kept Husar looking forward. He didn’t look back at Michigan or the other FBS schools that dismissed him for his lack of height.

“I’ve had a great opportunity here and took advantage of it,” Husar said. “I was humbled when Air Force recruited me and jumped all over the opportunity. I’ve enjoyed playing in our system. I honestly haven’t thought too much about what it would have been like to play somewhere else.”


Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan

Tom Shanahan is an award-winning sportswriter and the author of "Raye of Light". Tom spent the bulk of his career in San DIego writing for the San Diego Union-Tribune. He has covered NCAA Tournaments, Super Bowls, Rose Bowls, the NBA Finals and the World Series in a career that included writing for Voice of San Diego, the San Diego Hall of Champions and He contributes to the Detroit Free Press, Raleigh News & Observer,, and the National Football Foundation's Football Matters. He won multiple first-place awards from the San Diego Press Club and first place from the Copley News Service Ring of Truth Awards. The National Football Foundation/San Diego Chapter presented him its Distinguished American Award in 2003. USA Track and Field’s San Diego Chapter presented its President’s Award in 2000.

Raye of Light: Jimmy Raye, Duffy Daugherty, the integration of college football and the 1965-66 Michigan State Spartans. It explains Duffy Daugherty's pioneering role and debunks myths that steered recognition away from him to Bear Bryant.

By Tom Shanahan; Foreword by Tony Dungy; August Publications

David Maraniss, Pulitzer Prize winner and biographer: "History writes people out of the story. It's our job to write them back in."