By Ryan Leong
Michael Huff, DB # 24
Hometown: Irving, Texas
Experience: 7th NFL season, all with Raiders
Drafted by the Raiders as their first round pick, seventh overall in the 2006 NFL Draft, the Irving, Texas native played football for three years at Nimitz High School where he excelled at wide receiver, cornerback, and safety. In his final two seasons, he returned three of his nine interceptions for touchdowns along with 238 tackles. He was also a four-year letterman in track and finished seventh in the 100 meters in the 2000 USATF Junior Nationals.
He matriculated to the University of Texas, becoming the first player in school history to win the coveted Jim Thorpe award for being the nation’s top defensive back, starting 50 of 51 games. Huff set the school career record with four interceptions returned for touchdowns. And in the 2002 and 2003 seasons he was the only player to return two interceptions for scores in a season twice.
He started every game at strong safety as a senior when the Longhorns won the National Championship in 2005. In the Rose Bowl, he recovered a fumbled lateral from Reggie Bush and that was a key play that changed the momentum of the game. Eventually, Texas beat USC on a scramble run by Vince Young with 19 seconds left in the fourth quarter.
After being drafted, he started all 16 games as a rookie, all at strong safety, recording 78 tackles, 64 solo. He remained at strong safety and one of his highlights that season was his first career interception against the rival Kansas City Chiefs that led to a Sebastian Janikowski game-winning field goal. In 2007, he totaled 85 tackles (74 solo) and one interception.
He shifted over to free safety for the 2008 season. In 2009, he played 16 games with 12 starts and had his best overall season. He established career highs in interceptions (three) and passes defensed (14), and also recorded 59 total tackles (54 solo), one fumble recovery and half a sack.
For 2010, he had three interceptions and tied for the NFL lead for defensive backs with four sacks.
Last year, Huff played in only 12 games because of injuries but was involved in one of the most historic moments in Raiders history. A day after the passing of owner Al Davis on October 8, Huff Intercepted Matt Schaub in the end zone on the final play of the game to ensure a 25-20 win over the Houston Texans. That play was special because not only was the game dedicated to Mr. Davis’s memory, there were only 10 players on the field. Afterwards, then-Raiders head coach Hue Jackson got down on one knee and wept on the sidelines. He later said that the one player missing was Mr. Davis, who somehow spiritually had his hand on the ball in helping the Raiders to the victory.
This season, Huff was moved from free safety to cornerback because of injuries to their other corners Ron Bartell and Shawntae Spencer following Week Two.
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Ryan Leong has reported on over 2,800 games in the Bay Area since 1998, covering the Sharks, Giants, A’s, Warriors, 49ers, Raiders and the local college teams for radio networks and wire services. Having the best seat in the house to watch sports has been a thrill and Ryan still enjoys going to the games giving fans some insight and perspective on the players and coaches. His work can be found on Examiner.com.