January 28, 2010

Furman could be dominant at linebacker

For a number of reporters that covered Maryland high school football in 2009, it defies their thinking Michigan recruited and landed Millersville, Md., three-star Josh Furman at linebacker. But Old Mill coach Jason Dunlap believes Furman has far more potential on the defensive side of the ball …

"Maryland was the first school to offer Josh, last year, right after Signing Day, and they sold him on this idea that he could be the next Eddie George - a 6-3, 225-pound specimen that runs over people but also possesses that breakaway speed to go the distance," Dunlap said. "But there aren't that many Eddie George's honestly anymore.

"Josh tends to run upright and in Maryland 4A that doesn't matter because he can run you over, but he's not going to get away with that in college and I think little by little Josh began to see what I saw and what the Michigan coaches saw - that with his athleticism and explosiveness he can be awesome defensively, creating havoc like crazy.

"To put him at that spinner position Michigan has, where he can blitz off the edge, drop into coverage, play the run - he can do it all. And the Michigan coaches feel Josh can come in and push for immediate playing time as long as he gets a little bigger and stronger, and that won't be a problem because Josh cannot wait to get [Mike] Barwis' workouts.

"That's one of the reasons Josh is going to sign with them on Wednesday - Mike Barwis. He's psyched to get started with him. Whatever Barwis wants, we'll work with Josh. And he loved their academic advisors and their coaches too. Everything up there was topnotch."

Furman first made a name for himself as a freshman at Old Mill. Thrown into the game as a defensive replacement, he recorded six sacks. As the legend goes, it was actually 11, which isn't true. Another legend says that Furman can run a 4.4 40-yard dash also.

"I saw him run a pair of 4.36 40-yard dashes on the Baltimore Ravens' turf with football cleats on and laser time, and non-wind aided," Dunlap said. "At Penn State, they hand-timed him and he ran 4.4. His speed is legit. It's the question I get asked all the time but I swear by it.

"Last year, he led the 100-meter dash at state's for the first 40 or 50 meters but he was eventually passed [and came in fifth with a time of 11.38 seconds due to a heavy wind]. He gets out as quick as anybody I've ever seen, which is why he can run that 4.4 40.

"On the football field, he plays running back with 4.4 speed but defensively it's closer to 4.5 because it's not as natural to him. But when he's chasing after someone, there is no one that can elude him; he'll track you down from the backside every time.

"Josh is just such a superb athlete and he could be something special with the ball in his hands - that's why he's asked the Michigan coaches if he can return punts and kickoffs - but his future is at linebacker because of his ability to disrupt an offense."

When Old Mill first released Furman's junior film, one of the first coaches to make contact was Florida man-in-limbo Urban Meyer. Dunlap took a number of his players to UF's Summer Camp and Meyer predicted an NFL future for the 6-3, 194-pound standout.

"He said to Josh, 'I know some people will say you're a safety and some will say you're a running back, but I see you as a second-round pick at the SAM. With your speed and size, you could be one of college football's most dominant defensive players,'" Dunlap relayed.

"Josh could easily add another 25-30 pounds, and I think Michigan would like him to get up to 225 ideally, and still keep his speed and quickness. He's going to need some coaching, but the thing I love about Josh - and also maybe one of his biggest needs to improve - is that he rises up to play the best.

"When we were at the Florida camp, there were some of the best wide receivers in the country there and even though he wasn't a cornerback, Josh volunteered to get after them one-on-one, and I can't tell you there was a single guy that walked away from those matchups thinking he had gotten the better of Josh.

"But that's something he has to work on too because when he went to the Penn State camp, and there was nobody on that field that put up a real challenge, he sort of just drifted and didn't really dominate, and I think that's something that hurt him in his high school career a bit and hurt his ranking.

"The good news is that Michigan has that bulls-eye and every game is a big game so I think we'll see Josh rise up and play his best week after week … and the thought of him running round like a madmen ought to terrify the coaches and teams Michigan plays."

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