Over Christmas junior tight end Mike Healy was named D3.com's second team All-American tight end. He had 47 catches for 576 yards and an average of 12.3 yards per catch for the mighty Maroons in 2002. Healy is the seventh All-American since 1969, and only the second to receive the accolade in his junior season (the other was Dan Phillips in 1999). I was lucky enough to catch up to Healy and have a chat with him.
What did you do to prepare for the season?
I worked through a special speed program named 'Go' and I lifted weights every day.
What do you think was your best game?
My best game was the last game of the season, Case Western. I had 10 catches for 125 yards.
What we you thinking when you were notified that you were an All-American? Were you surprised?
I wasn't thinking about it, and I didn't even know till my friend Nate [a defensive back for the team] called me and told me. I was surprised.
How do you think that it will affect your play and the team's play next year?
There will be more attention on me, which will free up our great receivers and hopefully open up the pass game.
How do you think that you need to improve to be all-American again?
I think that I need to gain a little weight and improve on my blocking.
What do you think about the team's chances next year?
We have a lot good players and great offense returning. This year we had a lot of injuries, which meant a lot of people got to get in the game and gain some experience. I think that we have a good experienced team returning.
How do you feel about the coaching staff and how they have helped you?
With all the injuries, the coaches came up with new offensive sets to utilize the players that were in the game. They [the coaches] adapted the offense well. The coaches also have a good off-season program going and we are working hard.
Is there anything that you would like to say?
I am grateful the team and coaches. I am just an instrument within the team and it was only with their help that I made All-American. I just hope I can do better.
Healy's successes did not go unnoticed by his coach, Dick Maloney. Maloney put in his two cents on the accomplishments of his third-year tight end as well.
How did you feel when you heard that Healy made All-American?
I was very excited and pleased. It is a great honor for him and the University of Chicago.
What do you think about the impact that he made on the team this year?
I always thought he would be a really good player for us this year but he surpassed all my expectations and became a great player. He had to step in for Adam Cushing, who was a great player and a three-year starter. He leads by example. He is a tireless worker and a great pass catcher. Due to injuries to running backs and offensive linemen, we had to change. He enabled us to tailor the pass game. He was a great complement to the receivers and he brought an added dimension. He is a very versatile player and adapted well. The changes we made enabled him to grow and be a better player.
What do you think about next year's team?
We have good players returning. We will become a multifaceted team. We will be able to have two backs, one-on-one coverage on our great receivers, as well as the development of one back. We will be able to do many things with the same personale.
It is easy to see why Healy was named All-American. His attitude, versatility, and pure athletic ability not only greatly helped his team this year but will also help his team next year. His leadership and the added dimension that he brings to the game should make next years' team just that much more diverse, exciting to watch, and hopefully, champions.