Tyler Huff named 2023 Armed Forces Merit Award Recipient

FORT WORTH, TEXASTyler Huff of Furman University has been selected as the 12th recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).

Coordinated by the staff at the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA was created in June 2012 to honor an individual and/or a group with a military background, or involvement with the military, that has made an impact on college football.

The official announcement of Huff as the 2023 AFMA recipient was made on a ZOOM teleconference at 1:30 p.m. ET with the Furman quarterback and Paladin coach Clay Hendrix.  ESPN’s interview with Huff is scheduled to be aired on the 2-3 p.m. ET edition of SportsCenter.

During the teleconference, Brant Ringler, executive director of the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl, and Ross Dellenger, 2023 FWAA President and Yahoo! Sports national college football reporter, congratulated Huff as the 2023 recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA.

Huff was selected from a list of 46 nominations (41 individuals and five programs) as the 2023 recipient by a nine-person committee made up of FWAA members and Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl officials.

Huff was commissioned from Presbyterian College into the U. S. Army Reserves on May 13, 2022.  He will depart January 8 to Fort Huachuca in Arizona for active duty training through May 7, 2024.

“Having a commissioned Army officer quarterbacking a nationally-ranked school makes today’s presentation special,” said Ringler. “Tyler is a DUAL threat on-and-off the field.  On the gridiron, he is a runner and passer.  As an individual, he has made a commitment to serve his family and country.”

Dellenger added: “Huff is so much more than a standout quarterback. He’s a husband, a graduate student and a leader of men. He is following in the footsteps of family members who have served in the military. Tyler has proven that he is so much more than just a student-athlete.”

In leading Furman to an 8-1 record this season and a No. 2 ranking in the FCS poll, Huff compiled 1,977 total yards for the Paladins with 488 yards rushing (5 TDs) and 1,489 yards passing (9 TDs).  Huff began his Furman career by leading the Paladins to the 2022 FCS playoffs and a 10-3 mark with 694 yards rushing (8 TDs) and 2,199 yards passing (15 TDs).

Huff played his first three seasons at Presbyterian (2019-21) where he amassed 3,085 total yards (525 rushing and 2,560 passing) and 27 touchdowns. Huff played just four games at Presbyterian in 2021, qualifying for a medical redshirt. He earned his undergraduate degree from Presbyterian, majoring in business administration with a concentration in business analytics.

Furman head football coach Clay Hendrix, who coached at the United States Air Force Academy for 10 seasons before arriving at Furman in 2017, said Huff “joined our program in the summer of 2022, and over a span of 16 months has been a positive difference maker in every regard. Through his role as our starting quarterback, which he secured in the fall of 2022 without the benefit of going through spring practice, he quickly established himself as a top performer and leader in our program who commands tremendous respect, which he returns with consistently strong, unselfish support of his teammates.”

Hedrix added: “The stature Tyler holds is reflected in the fact he was elected a team co-captain for the 2023 season by vote of his teammates – something I have rarely witnessed for a second-year player in my 38 years of coaching. Tyler’s maturity and confidence as a person and player, constructed though his playing experience and shaped by the challenges of coaching changes and injury he experienced prior to coming to Furman, have also been greatly influenced by his military background. No football team wins without strong, effective leadership and ability at the quarterback position. Tyler quickly deflects and shares praise among his teammates, which to me underscores even more his effectiveness as person, player, and leader on the field and beyond.”

The Paris Johnson Jr. Foundation was selected from a list of 50 nominations (43 individuals and seven programs) as the 2022 recipient. A consensus All-American offensive tackle at Ohio State, Johnson and his mother (Monica Daniels) manage a foundation that assists homeless veterans in Cincinnati and Columbus. Johnson was the sixth pick in the 2023 NFL Draft and is currently starting with the Arizona Cardinals.

Other recipients of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA are Nate Boyer of the University of Texas (2012), Brandon McCoy of the University of North Texas (2013), Daniel Rodriguez from Clemson University (2014), Bret Robertson of Westminster College (Fulton, Mo., 2015), Steven Rhodes from Middle Tennessee State University (2016), Dr. Chris Howard from Robert Morris University (2018), Army West Point assistant coach Mike Viti (2019), Collin O’Donnell of Bluefield College of Virginia, (2020) and Damien Jackson of the University of Nebraska (2021).

Kansas State and its football team were honored in 2017 as the sixth recipient of the Armed Forces Merit Award presented by the FWAA for the university’s partnership with the United States Army that created a bond between the school’s athletic department and the Iron Rangers at Fort Riley.