Lineman Huey is Arizona's Mr. Versatility
In just three years in the Arena Football League, Arizona Rattlers offensive lineman Michael Huey has been named to the All-Arena offensive team every season and has claimed two championships with a chance for a third on August 23.
All while scoring touchdowns along the way. Quite simply, Huey is living an offensive lineman's dream.
“Being in the arena game, bigger guys can show their athleticism,” Huey told ArenaFan.com on Monday as he prepared for the Rattlers' ArenaBowl XXVII matchup with the Cleveland Gladiators. “Here it's a short roster, so I've been able to open up some eyes and expand my resumé a bit. That's really the beauty of this league.”
Never was it more beautiful for Rattler Nation than it was in the National Conference title game against the San Jose SaberCats. Huey hauled in a screen pass, broke multiple tackles and hurdled another defender on his way to a crucial touchdown that put Arizona (17-3) up two scores at halftime.
“That was a pretty surreal moment for someone who hasn't scored many touchdowns in his whole football career,” the former Texas Longhorn said.
It was the fourth receiving score this year for the 6-foot-5, 315-pounder.
And although his reaction was fairly subdued compared to the “worm” maneuver he broke out at Portland earlier in the season, Huey promised something special should he score a touchdown in the ArenaBowl.
“I'll break out something new,” he joked.
Getting to the end zone will not be easy against a tough Cleveland defense playing in front of about 15,000 supporters seeking the city's first professional championship in a half-century.
Huey said he relishes going into another team's building and creating havoc.
“I enjoy going to another team's territory – it gets me fired up,” he said. “And we've played in hostile environments like Spokane this season where you couldn't hear yourself think. We will be fine.”
The Rattlers are hoping the momentum from a dominating conference title game victory carries over this weekend when facing the 19-1 Gladiators.
“The last game should give us a huge momentum boost going into the ArenaBowl,” Huey explained. “In practice, everyone has been focused. There are small things to clean up but as a whole, we are clicking on all cylinders.”
Besides his pass catching and rushing prowess as a tight end and fullback, Huey takes pride in protecting quarterback Nick Davila. As a true example of his versatility, Huey has lined up at eight different positions in practice since the San Jose game.
“You could see me just about anywhere,” he joked.
Huey knows winning a third straight title will not be easy, especially against a Gladiators team that the Rattlers have not faced in 2014.
“They are 19-1 for a reason,” he said. “And it is such a huge game. We are going to have to play our best football to come out of there with another championship.”
Establishing himself as one of the top AFL linemen in just three seasons, Huey still has aspirations to play at the next level.
“I've never really satisfied,” he admitted. “There is always something you can work on to get better. One of my goals is to get to that next level. If I have that opportunity, I'm going to work very hard to make it happen.”
Huey credited his family and his fiancée, Cortnie, for their support during his AFL journey. And although Huey has experienced much success, he is taking nothing for granted.
“A lot of players go their whole career without any championships and we have a chance for three in a row,” Huey said. “I feel excited, lucky and blessed to have this opportunity.”
Matt Loeschman is the business editor/city reporter at the Williamson County Sun and a color commentator for SHN Sports in Georgetown, Texas. As a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, he bleeds burnt orange but is also an avid fan of the Arizona Rattlers, Arizona Diamondbacks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Dallas Stars, Texas Stars, Houston Rockets, Houston Dynamo and Austin Aztex. With nearly 20 years of experience in print journalism and radio, Matt has covered sports ranging from high school to the pros along with local news. He has followed the AFL since 2000. You can follow him on Twitter @MattLoeschman.