Michigan linebacker Noah Furbush (59) and linebacker Mike McCray (9) celebrate a fumble-recovery by Furbush for a touchdown in the end zone against Florida last season. Furbush is gearing up for his final season with the Wolverines.
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ANN ARBOR — One day perhaps, Noah Furbush’s name will be alongside Elon Musk, the eccentric founder of Tesla and SpaceX.
Furbush, who graduates this month with a degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan, is the first recipient of the Bo Schembechler postgraduate scholarship, a chunk of $10,000 awarded by the National Football Foundation.
Furbush, a linebacker from Kenton, Ohio, is using the money toward his one-year master’s degree, which falls under the onerous subject of space engineering.
“So no more airplanes,” Furbush said, smiling. “Just rockets and spacecrafts.”
His preferred destination this season is the College Football Playoff. But once the curtain closes on his career, Furbush is eyeing far-off locales. Not Tahiti or Singapore — Mars and beyond.
“If we’re talking really out there, I think it would be really cool to experience interstellar travel,” he said.
This summer, he’ll intern at Ford’s research and development department in Dearborn, Mich. Furbush views it as an opportunity to take a refined look at engineering and get out of the academic bubble to see firsthand how the industry operates.
The defense inside Schembechler Hall is similar to a Ford assembly plant, with Don Brown pulling levers and consistently churning out a reliable product. Furbush, who had 30 tackles, 2½ for loss, one sack, and a fumble recovery in 2017, could become a more integral component of the defense’s makeup this season as Mike McCray’s replacement.
“Coach Brown likes to talk about the PhDs of linebackerology,” Furbush said. “I’m working on mine still. It’s just the way you attack things.”
Said Brown: “Noah Furbush, his arrow is so far up from a year ago. I’m just very excited about where he is.”
Studying engineering, rockets, and spaceflight is something a minute percentage of people can do coherently. Armchair quarterbacks and coaches would make you think the intricacies of football are equivalent to first grade. But there’s a reason coaches are paid millions of dollars.
“There are so many ins and outs and so many different things going on out there. It’s not as easy as it looks,” Furbush said. “Today’s game is just so far developed. There are so many people doing so many different things.”
UM’s Ann Arbor campus is 33 miles west of the Detroit Lions’ Allen Park headquarters, where head coach Matt Patricia, who studied aerospace engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, is the man in charge of erasing decades of futility. Furbush took notice of his credentials, as a coach and his intellect, saying, “The dude’s on another level.”
Whether it’s 3D printing rockets in New Zealand or deciphering zone blitz schemes, Furbush is comfortable in conversation. He oozes enthusiasm, going into detail to explain how becoming an astronaut is becoming more feasible.
Football is in his immediate future, but the limits of outer space appear more practical than a career in the NFL. What a strange world.
“It’s incredible the kinds of things that are happening right now,” Furbush said. “Just to be able to have resources available to be able to explore all those exciting opportunities that I’ll have with this master’s program is amazing.”
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