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Ty MacArthur: Perfectly qualified

Hart grad Ty MacArthur is proving to be well suited for Air Force team

Posted: December 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: December 24, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Air Force wide receiver and Hart High graduate Ty MacArthur, left, competes in a game against Navy on Oct. 6

 

The United States Air Force Academy runs its football program a little differently than many other college teams.

It’s different in the way it recruits players and, in turn, the way those players are utilized.

That’s OK, because Air Force wide receiver and Hart High graduate Ty MacArthur isn’t like most football players.

Now a junior at the school he dreamt of getting into since his sophomore year of high school, it seems MacArthur has found a perfect fit.

“It’s been awesome. It’s been a dream for me as long as I can remember to play college football and to be one of the top guys out here,” MacArthur says. “It’s a dream come true.”

Though he was told he was too small to play NCAA Division I football, MacArthur finished the regular season as the Falcons’ leading receiver at 24 catches for 411 yards. In Air Force’s triple option, run-heavy offense, MacArthur has also piled up 434 rushing yards on 48 carries, scoring two touchdowns on the ground. He also has two touchdown catches.

He’ll have a chance to build on those numbers on Saturday when Air Force (6-6 overall, 5-3 Mountain West Conference) takes on Rice in the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl in Forth Worth, Texas.

The game will be televised on ESPN at 8:45 a.m.

After MacArthur spent his freshman season playing for the scout team and last year he saw a very limited role in Air Force’s bowl game due to injuries, this will be the Hart graduate’s first real shot to showcase himself in the
postseason.

His ascension in the Falcons’ offense is no accident. In fact, MacArthur is the quintessential Air Force recruit.

On the team’s official website, it talks about the program’s recruiting philosophy and how they look for characteristics in players far beyond 40-yard dash times and bench-press abilities.

“Leadership is the most vital thing we are looking for,” says Air Force head coach Troy Calhoun, according to the team website. “We looked hard to find young people that we feel will become great leaders for our Air Force. We want to find guys that are going to fit in and excel here.”

The sixth-year head coach means it, which is why he took a chance on a small, speedy wideout like MacArthur, who said he didn’t receive scholarship offers from any other Division I teams.

“Just because you don’t get into a big school doesn’t mean you’re not talented,” MacArthur says. “A lot of guys in this lineup are (undersized).”

Most of his life, MacArthur has had to hear about how undersized he is for football.

As a senior in high school, he said he was 5-foot-8, 145 pounds. His Air Force profile now lists him at 5-9, 175 pounds, though MacArthur said that’s being generous.

“I think that’s his motivation for the way he lives his life,” says Johnny MacArthur, Ty’s brother, of dealing with doubters. “I think that’s why he is where he is today, and why there’s a lot of people that he competed against and played with in the early days of his life that are now watching him on TV.”

Johnny also played football at Hart, but was two years ahead of Ty. Johnny says he still remembers his brother’s tenacity back then.

Even Hart football head coach Mike Herrington remembers the former All-Foothill League first-teamer talk about his aspirations of playing at the college level.

“Back then he was only about 115 pounds I think. I might be exaggerating, but not too much,” Herrington says of Ty MacArthur’s sophomore year at Hart. “He was not big at all and I didn’t discourage him from his goals, but I thought, ‘Is that realistic?’ But he kept on working.”

Though he played mostly defensive back as a junior at Hart, MacArthur burst onto the scene as one of the league’s top wideouts as a senior in 2009.

He was named an all-league defensive back that season, but he always knew he’d rather have the ball in his hands.

At Air Force, it was made clear to MacArthur early on that he was going to have to do a lot more than most wide receivers due to the team’s unusual offensive style.

This season, the Falcons have run the ball five times as many times as they have passed it. At 328.8 rushing yards per game, Air Force is the second best running team in the nation behind only Navy.

Players like MacArthur are often asked to block and to play more of a hybrid role as a runner and receiver.

“I’m called a receiver so I kind of like catching passes. Anything I can do to help the team,” says MacArthur, whose only previous experience as a running back came at the youth level.

His quick cuts and shifty abilities have earned him more touches and more playing time throughout his college career.

That, and his toughness.

MacArthur broke his collarbone last year in a game against Boise State, forcing him to sit out for the final five games of the regular season.

Early this season, he was told by coaches to wear a red jersey at practice which indicates he is not to engage in any contact, Calhoun said in a press conference leading up to an Oct. 13 game against Wyoming.

Ignoring the request, MacArthur took the jersey off, Calhoun said.

When asked about it in a press conference the next day, MacArthur simply said, “I’m not hurt so I figured I’d take it off.”

Those were the little things Air Force saw in him that nobody else did.

It’s why he’s known for so long that this was the perfect fit for him.

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