Ike standout QB signs with Michigan

By: Timothy Pontzer | Shelby - Utica News | Published February 12, 2018

 Utica Eisenhower quarterback Max Wittwer, seated, poses with family members after officially signing with the University of Michigan Feb. 7. Wittwer went 29-5 as a starter at Ike, eclipsing 5,000 career yards of offense.

Utica Eisenhower quarterback Max Wittwer, seated, poses with family members after officially signing with the University of Michigan Feb. 7. Wittwer went 29-5 as a starter at Ike, eclipsing 5,000 career yards of offense.

Photo provided by Max Wittwer

SHELBY TOWNSHIP — After guiding the Utica Eisenhower football program to unprecedented success the last three seasons, Max Wittwer will look to succeed in a different winged helmet.

The Ike quarterback officially signed with the University of Michigan Feb. 7, fulfilling a lifelong dream to wear the maize and blue.

“I’ve been a Wolverine fan my whole life,” Wittwer said after putting pen to paper in a ceremony celebrating Eisenhower’s college-bound athletes. “I cannot wait to get to Michigan and be a part of the most special tradition in all of college sports. It’s going to be the experience of a lifetime.”

Wittwer was originally verbally committed to the United States Air Force Academy, but when his favorite team in his backyard offered a spot as a preferred walk-on, the signal-caller was left with a tough choice.

“De-committing from Air Force was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make, with all the perks and benefits it had to offer,” Wittwer said. “But I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play for my dream school. Ever since I could walk and talk, I wanted to be a Wolverine.”

Eisenhower football coach Chris Smith was thrilled for his star player, saying that those who criticized the decision should realize the situation.

“I know he made the commitment to Air Force, but at the same time, he doesn’t owe anyone anything, and he needs to do what’s best for him,” Smith said. “I know he’s going to have an unbelievable time, being able to compete with some of the best athletes in the country. It’s been a lifelong dream of his, so to be able to fulfill that is definitely special, and we’re all so happy for him.”

Wittwer said what solidified his decision was his official visit to Ann Arbor.

“During my visit to Michigan, I experienced nothing but the best in all aspects.” Wittwer explained. “Ann Arbor is a great town, and the football facilities are state of the art. Meeting Coach (Jim) Harbaugh was awesome. To meet anybody with that sort of profile and history behind him is very humbling. I could tell how genuine he really is.”

While he is excited to play under Harbaugh, Wittwer was quick to praise Smith and his staff for setting him up for the future.

“Coach Smith and the rest of my coaches at Ike have maximized my leadership skills and taught me that nothing is given, and I have to take what I want, and that only comes with hard work,” Wittwer explained. “I’m never going to forget the lessons I have learned in perseverance and confidence here at Ike.”

Wittwer won’t be forgotten by those at Ike anytime soon, as he left his name throughout the program’s record books. Smith said he would have had a chance to lead in all major categories if not for a knee injury that sidelined him in the playoffs this past season.

Wittwer finished with over 5,000 total career yards, finishing fourth in school history in pass completions (257), fourth in career passing yards (3,638) and third in passing touchdowns (40). He finished 29-5 in his career as a starter, going 21-1 in his junior and senior seasons, which included back-to-back Macomb Area Conference Red Division titles, two undefeated regular seasons and a pair of district titles.

He is the first player under Smith to sign with Michigan and the first from Eisenhower since Phil Monolo in 2009.

“We’re all very proud of him at Eisenhower, and we’re really looking forward to seeing what he does,” Smith said. “He’s a great representative for our program. He obviously won us a lot of games, and I know he’ll bring that same work ethic out there.”

As a preferred walk-on, Wittwer knows that he is not guaranteed playing time, but he plans to use that work ethic Smith praised to earn an opportunity at the “Big House.”

“I’m going to attack each day the same as I always have,” Wittwer said. “With enthusiasm and hard work, I’ll look at every day as an opportunity to get better.”