Zack Menchel, Murrow News Service
Posted June 9, 2014
SEATTLE, Wash. Former WSU placekicker Andrew Furney has been kicking all his life, but it was an abrupt positional change in high school that led to his latest gig, with the reigning Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks.
Furney, a lifelong soccer player, first began suiting up for organized football during his freshman year at Burlington-Edison High School in Skagit County.
“Football was just something I really wanted to do,” said Furney. “I played tight end and defensive end but it was a bit frustrating at first because I didn’t really get to play at all and sat on the bench.”
Regardless, Furney hung in there and the following year, something peculiar happened.
“The varsity coach approached me and let me know that they didn’t have a kicker because their original guy failed four classes,” said Furney. “That just kind of got plopped on me so I said, ‘why not’ and the rest is history I guess.”
Furney went on to set a state prep record with 33 career field goals at Burlington-Edison.
“I still kind of laugh about it because I went from never playing on the freshman C-team to all-state on the varsity team in one year,” he said. “It was quite an interesting flop of things.”
Furney kicked in front of numerous high-profile college coaches and against some of the best kickers in the nation in an attempt to land a scholarship offer.
Although he said he outperformed several talented kickers, Furney recalls being flustered with a lack of offers after the audition process was complete.
Regardless, Washington State expressed serious interest in Furney’s abilities but would only offer him aid if he could win the starting job as a freshman.
“That was a bit frustrating because I felt WSU would have offered me right away had I gotten competing offers from other schools,” said Furney.
With few options, Furney’s hand was forced but he says he was willing to embrace the challenge of walking on at WSU because it presented him with the right opportunity he was looking for.
“My idea of college football was being seen on TV playing in big stadiums and in one of the nation’s best conferences,” said Furney. “If I was going to walk-on anywhere it would have to be a Pac-12 school so WSU fit that bill.”
At WSU, Furney became a folk hero of sorts. Standing 5-feet-10 inches tall and pushing a hefty 235 pounds, he was known first for his unorthodox kicker physique upon arrival.
Pushed perhaps by the coaching change that brought in the hard-nosed, no-nonsense disciplinarian Mike Leach and by his own aspirations to go pro, Furney shed weight, roughly 25 pounds to a svelte 210.
“For me, it was more like, ‘I don’t want to be remembered for being the big, fat kicker that kicked at Washington State,” Furney told the Seattle Times’ Bud Withers, last year.
It was his consistency and a penchant for clutch kicks that helped endear Furney to football fans in the Palouse and become known as the next great Cougar kicker on a list that includes longtime NFL veterans Jason Hanson and Rian Lindell.
“One reason why I even came to WSU was the great tradition of kickers,” said Furney.
“In fact, just being mentioned in the same sentence with those guys is an honor because we’re talking over 30 years of NFL kicking experience between Hanson and Lindell.”
At .714, Furney’s career percentage on kicks beyond 40 yards (15 of 21) trumps past Cougar greats like Hanson, Lindell, and Drew Dunning.
As a sophomore, Furney was successful on 14-of-16 attempts and went on to sink 47 career field goals while wearing crimson and gray.
Reminiscing about the 141 points worth of field goals he accumulated at WSU, Furney said the 41-yarder he hit to beat No. 25 USC in the Los Angeles Coliseum last year and the 60-yarder against Eastern Washington in 2012 were among his favorites.
However, his most memorable kick was one that Cougar fans will not soon forget, the 27-yard game winner that sunk the Huskies in the 105th battle for the Apple Cup in 2012.
“As a Washington native I went to quite a few Apple Cup games in person as a kid,” said Furney. “It’s absolutely crazy to think about how I got to end up kicking a game-winner for the Cougs with so much history and tradition on the line.”
Although a Seahawk in rookie mini camp for the time being, Furney faces extremely unlikely odds to land a roster spot with Seattle as the Seahawks signed Steven Hauschka to a three-year $9.15 million contract in March.
“Realistically I just want to make a team but of course everyone would like the chance to play for their hometown team,” said Furney.
Because each of the 32 NFL teams typically carries just one kicker throughout the year, Furney realizes that he needs to make the most out of each and every opportunity, even if his chance to play doesn’t necessarily come this year.
When he decides to hang up the cleats for good, Furney said he’d like to utilize his business degree to follow an entrepreneurial path.
“I can use my drive and creativity since I had such a diverse education and it would be kind of cool to bring all those tools together and be my own boss,” he said.
“I have a path now that I just need to follow because God is going to make the right things happen if I let him guide me.”