WINTERSVILLE - Indian Creek wide receiver Mike Furda torched opposing secondaries in 2011 to the tune of 37 catches for school records 735 yards and 12 touchdowns.
It just makes sense that when it was time for this big time player to choose where to continue his playing and academic careers he chose a big time program.
That program is Division III football power house Mount Union.
OFF TO MOUNT UNION — Indian Creek senior Mike Furda, flanked by parents June and Mike and sister Jessica, will continue his academic and athletic carers at Mount Union, where he will major in engineering and will be a member of the football team. Also on hand for the signing were, from left, Indian Creek Principal Steve Cowser, Athletic Director Joe Dunlevy and football coach Andrew Connor.
-- Fred Younce
It wasn't just the athletics the drew Furda, a student with a 3.78 grade point average, to sign with Purple Raiders.
"Obviously they have a very good football program and they've had a lot of success, but they're school is just really good in academics," said the future engineering major. "Hopefully I can get an education that can set me up with a job for the rest of my life."
Stated Indian Creek head football coach Andrew Connor of Furda's decision, "Well one, he's a great student. I think that's going to help him going to a school like Mount Union. He's got a good work habit and he understands the importance of education.
"I think it's one of those things where when you're trying to choose a school I think it comes down to the contact you have with the coach. He felt a little more secure. I think he liked where they were headed and the things they told him.
"Basically it comes down to where you're more comfortable and I think that's where Mike felt the most comfortable."
Mount Union was not always at the top of Furda's list. He admits it became an option later in the game than some other interested universities.
"Mount Union was kind of a late school in the mix," he said. "I went to a camp in the summer, but I was looking at Edinboro University and Fairmont State, but Mount Union seemed like they wanted me the most and it seemed like it would really work for me."
Furda was injured in his final high school football game. True to form for the entire season he scored a touchdown the possession before sustaining the knee injury. This affected his recruiting somewhat, but the ever positive Furda believes it could lead him to a better fit.
"I hate to look at the negative side of it, but it really did," he said. "Division II schools wanted me to walk on for the first year to earn the scholarship and make sure I was 100 percent and stuff like that.
"It kind of stunk but maybe it's for the better because it set me up to go to Mount Union and maybe I'll find even more success there."
Furda, who was named to Eastern District, Jefferson County, Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, Buckeye 8, and Quad County first teams, was also a stalwart on the Redskins defense with 10 tackles for loss, nine sacks, and three interceptions his senior year.
His success can be attributed to a work ethic that Connor states make him a great leader.
"When it comes to leadership I can't put into words what he did for us as a leader in our locker room, off-season wise, and especially on the football season," he said. "I know the cliche is he was like a coach, but in the case of Michael it wasn't just so much about coaching, I think it was the respect he got from his teammates.
"I think that was a result of how hard he worked and how much he knew about our opponent. Therefore I think out of knowledge he had I think the kids respected him.
"Not only how hard he worked in practice, but how much he gained watching film, looking at our handouts, and preparing himself. I think that's going to help him in college. The preparation part. He is a student of the game."
Furda is quick to attribute all the positive characteristics people use to describe him to the people who have guided him through the years.
"Well my parents definitely and my grandfather," e said. "Coach Connor was an awesome coach. He really helped me. Coach D (Indian Creek head basketball coach Joe Dunlevy) definitely helped with work ethic. Coach D and coach Connor are the two best coaches I could of asked for and I'm glad I came to Indian Creek."