Recruited as a quarterback, Henry Furman ’14 switched to wide receiver when Tony Reno became head coach in January. Furman returned to quarterback last month to save the Bulldogs when injuries began to plague Yale’s signal callers, and he will reportedly start under center when the Bulldogs take the field at Harvard tomorrow. He sat down with the News to discuss his changing role and the 129th Yale-Harvard game.
Q: What position were you recruited to play at Yale?
A: I was recruited at quarterback. I started two years of high school at quarterback. Actually, I was always a baseball player, but Yale came around wanting to see me … so I took that offer. I played different positions in football growing up but I was always a quarterback in varsity football.
Q: Did you get recruited anywhere to play baseball? What position did you play?
A: I played center field. I had some interest from Stanford, Santa Clara and USC but once I decided that I was going to go with football I started telling baseball coaches that I wasn’t really interested. The interest sort of died off after junior year.
Q: Did you ever think about playing both sports here?
A: Yeah, it’s definitely come to mind. I’ve always held the option for senior year, but I wouldn’t want to make myself be in season for nine months or 10 months out of the year.
Q: What was harder for you: transitioning to wide receiver or transitioning back to quarterback in a new system?
A: I would say transitioning to wide receiver because I’d literally never done it before. I was athletic but there’s a lot of technique to what I was doing. The transition back to quarterback was actually easier than the transition from high school to college quarterback just because I ran a spread offense like the one I run right now, whereas obviously the last few years we ran a pro-style offense, so that was difficult for me. I didn’t transition well, so coming back to the spread was actually pretty easy.
Q: Now that you’re the varsity starting quarterback, do you prepare for the games differently?
A: I wouldn’t really say I prepared any differently. Obviously the stakes are higher but I thought we did a great job during the week preparing me and preparing the offense to play together and glue together … A big part of it was making me feel comfortable and making sure I knew what I was doing at all times.
Q: You are preparing for this week like you’re the starter. How do you look at it differently because it’s Harvard?
A: I wouldn’t say I’m going to prepare any differently this week. It’s fun to think that my first two starts at quarterback were Princeton and Harvard. That’s really cool, but I wouldn’t want to psych myself out or prepare any differently. I’ve always had the same routine and that will alleviate a lot of stress. Just making sure I know what I’m doing on the field, getting the ball out quickly … They have a good defensive line so I want to make sure that I’m not holding onto the ball too long. Nothing’s really going to change, it’s still the same game.
Q: Yale’s considered the underdog. How has that motivated the team?
A: Unfortunately, we’ve been considered the underdog for a while now, the last five or six years. That’s not a new environment for us. More so we want to get a win for the seniors. We haven’t beaten them in a long time so I don’t know if we really need any more motivation. It’s more just a matter of realizing that we’re fully capable. We handled Penn pretty easily and obviously Penn beat them last week, so we should have all the confidence in the world going into the game regardless of who’s favored.
Q: How heavily does the losing streak weigh on the team?
A: It weighs heavy. It means a lot to us. It’s a big part of why we all came here. A lot of us had offers to go to other big-time schools where they play bowl games. This is our bowl game. It’s every year, and we play the same team. We want to get that straightened out as soon as possible.
Q: What would it be like for you personally if you are the starting quarterback that leads Yale to its first victory in six years against Harvard?
A: I wouldn’t say it means more to me. It would mean a lot, but I would be more proud to just be a part of the team that was able to right the ship. I just know that a lot of guys coming back, that’s one of their big regrets that we still haven’t beat Harvard. It doesn’t matter what position I’m playing it’s just that we were able to win.
Q: This time next week, has Yale ended the streak?
A: Oh yeah. Harvard’s going to come in here like they always do, expecting that they’re going to win. I’m sure they’re going to be all pissed off after last week when they lost to Penn and obviously with Reno coming over last year emotions are going to be high. It’s going to come down to who executes and who will keep a level head, because it’s going to be a game with a lot of ups and downs. I think we have a better ability to fight through adversity and keep our composure. As long as we do that and we can execute, then we’ll be good.