They say home is where the heart is. Well, for Western redshirt senior linebacker James Huskey, that statement could not ring more true.
After a stellar high school career at Fox High School in St. Louis, Huskey signed on to play for the Griffons in 2014.
This season is the fifth season that Huskey has been a student-athlete here at Western, tied for the longest tenure on the team. Huskey has been here so long, in fact, that he is the one of the longest-tenured members of the football program; player or coach.
In his five years as a Griffon, Huskey has been able to experience firsthand the massive overhaul that the Western football program has undergone these past few years. Huskey has seen just about everything a football program can see during his career, from coaching changes and new systems, to stadium renovations and new apparel sponsorship deals.
When asked what keeps him coming back to Western, Huskey points to the same reasons that he chose Western in the first place.
“The main thing that has kept me around here is the love of football and being able to help contribute to winning and help changing the program,” Huskey said. “Also, the guys I’ve grinded with year round keep me here.”
In addition to all of the off the field adversity and changes he has had to adapt to, Huskey has had to battle back from injury multiple times during his time here at Western and fight hard just to have the chance to get back on the field with his teammates. After playing in eight games during his freshman season, Huskey was forced to miss his 2015 season due to injury, resulting in a medical redshirt.
In typical Huskey fashion, he bounced back in 2016, turning in a Second Team All-MIAA season that saw him finish with 90 tackles, including 16.5 tackles for loss, good for second in the conference.
Unfortunately for Huskey, the 2017 season saw him again bitten by the injury bug that would end up costing him his season.
Huskey has finally been able to stay on the field this season, and it has been paying dividends for the Western defense. Serving as one of the anchors of the Western defense this season, Huskey has been playing extremely effective defense thus far, resulting in 26 tackles (11 solo tackles) and 3.5 tackles for loss. Huskey also made, arguably, the biggest play of the season so far when he blocked a punt and took it 27 yards to the house to cap off Western’s massive home upset of then #5 Fort Hays State. The team as a whole has been playing with a new energy this year, and Huskey is, without a doubt, a part of it all.
“Just all the energy everyone is bringing from the coaching staff to the players has been awesome,” Huskey said. “The team this year has been together like nothing I’ve been apart of here.”
When asked to reflect upon his time here at Western, Huskey explains the special place that Missouri Western will always hold in his heart.
“Missouri Western has really meant everything to me,” Huskey said. “I’ve grown a lot here as a person and made friends with people I’ll talk to forever. Also, through sports and injuries, I’ve just been able to realize that resilience is the key to life and keep pushing forward. No matter the situation, as long as you put the effort in, you can do anything.”
Huskey and the Western football team will look to keep their energy up this weekend as they host Washburn this Saturday at 7 p.m.