Michigan football recruit Josh Furman never thought he'd be a Wolverine
It was second period, world history, and Josh Furman can still feel the excitement.
Old Mill (Md.) defensive backs coach Jason Dunlap was sorting through another pile of recruiting mail that came in Furman’s name, separating the junk from the letters Furman had to read.
Dunlap opened a letter from Michigan and tossed it into the discard pile without much thought. When he flipped back through the stack, he saw a hand-written note from Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez offering Furman a scholarship.
Dunlap ran out of the office, pulled Furman from class, and the two celebrated with high-fives and hugs in the hallway.
“We were jumping up down, slapping high five, I was like, ‘What?’” Furman recalled. “I was so happy. I was excited. I was texting everybody. You got to think, it’s big. That’s something big. It’s Michigan. It’s no small school.”
A record-setting running back who’ll sign with the Wolverines to play linebacker on Wednesday, Furman said he never dreamed he’d hear from Michigan when the recruiting process began.
“I used to get all these different questionnaires from all these colleges, they always say the top five college choices, I never put Michigan in the top,” Furman said. “I never thought I was going to go to Michigan, I never even pictured myself going to Michigan."
“It was some big school that I didn’t think I could pop up in their mind like, ‘Hey, let’s offer this guy. Let’s start recruiting this guy,'" Furman said.
Furman more than popped into Michigan’s mind after a toolsy workout at several spring combines - he ran two electronically-timed sub-4.4 40s and vertical jumped 40 inches - and solidified his status as one of the East Coast’s best athletes with a dominant senior season.
Last fall, Furman rushed for 2,220 yards and 36 touchdowns, and had a memorable 414-yard, six-touchdown game in a 58-55 double-overtime playoff win over Arundel.
Furman carried 42 times in the game and atoned for his own late fumble with a 46-yard run on fourth-and-10 with less than two minutes to play. That set up his game-tying touchdown (and 2-point conversion), and Furman scored on another run in the first overtime.
“It was the best performance I’ve ever seen,” Old Mill coach Damian Ferragamo said.
Furman, who’s still recovering from a sprained left PCL he suffered in Old Mill’s state championship game victory, said he’ll miss playing running back in college - “I had all my fun with running back in high school,” he said - but most feel he’s best suited for outside linebacker.
At Michigan, he projects to play the hybrid safety-linebacker position occupied by Stevie Brown last year.
“The explosion and power this kid has, it’s phenomenal,” Dunlap said. “I’ve seen kids with almost the same amount of speed like 5-10, 5-11. But being 6-2, 6-3, being able to run
“I’ve never seen anything like him. He’s definitely a freak. Definitely a freak.”
In that regard, Furman takes after his father, Tyrone, a former defensive lineman at Maryland.
He was offered by the Terrapins and Oklahoma (like Michigan, off film) and several other schools, but in the end chose Michigan over Virginia Tech at his father’s urging.
“Going through the recruiting process I came to realize that this is a business and I think out of all 13 scholarships I had, Michigan, the coaching staff and the recruiters were the most honest and realistic with me,” Furman said. “I went up there for the Michigan-Notre Dame game, I just loved the atmosphere. It just had so many positives toward the college. I know they had two bad season, but if you really look at it they’re not a bad team at all, and I think they’re going to be a good team for the next four or five years.”
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.