football-fbs flag

Courtney Martinez | NCAA.com | August 1, 2016

Michigan football: Walk-on Michael Hirsch overcomes illness, fulfills dream of playing for Wolverines

For Wolverines fullback and walk-on Michael Hirsch, playing at the University of Michigan has been a lifelong goal. Hirsch grew up a fan of Michigan, the place where his parents met as freshman, and one day longed to put on the maize and blue.

But Hirsch's journey to Ann Arbor took a unique path as he told his story on the Rich Eisen Show.

Hirsch originally spent two seasons with Harvard's football program until one day during spring ball he started to feel ill.

"What felt like a cold was suddenly spitting up blood. I got diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. It's called Wegener's granulomatosis," Hirsch said during his Friday appearance. "My immune system was defunct and it started to attack itself. So I started take chemo to start to fight the disease."

Hirsch received treatments and underwent surgeries while he stayed with the Harvard program for the next three years as the team's manager. Following his graduation from Harvard in 2014, Hirsch took a Wall Street job with Citigroup, yet football remained on his mind.

"It was going really well but outside of work, I felt like I needed something else going on. So one day I woke up and wrote down what would be your biggest dream?," Hirsch said. "I grew up a huge Michigan fan and that was my lifelong dream. So I wrote down play for Michigan and I started to get to work."

Hirsch would spend his days at Citigroup and split his nights training and studying for the GMATs. All the hard work paid off as the NCAA granted Hirsch two years of eligibility and the fullback enrolled in graduate school at Michigan.

"I remember I was waiting on pins and needles to hear back from them. When Coach Harbaugh called, that was one of the better days of my life," Hirsch said.

"I felt great about the NCAA granting him those two years. Now Michael will be able to use all of his football playing eligibility to go to the Ross School of Business," Harbaugh said.

"Who's got it better than Michael Hirsch?"

You can hear more about Hirsch's story from Friday's segment:

The college careers of the 2021 US Olympic wrestlers

Here's a close look at the collegiate careers of the men's freestyle, women's freestyle and men's Greco-Roman 2021 Olympic team members.
READ MORE

1 fun-to-watch player from every Sweet 16 team, ranked

Before the 2021 NCAA tournament continues, NCAA.com correspondent Andy Katz ranked his favorite players on each team from this year's Sweet 16 field during the March 23 episode of the March Madness 365 podcast.
READ MORE

Meet the 2021 NCAA college wrestling All-Americans

Only 80 NCAA wrestlers earn this prestigious award every year, so let's meet the eight guys in each of the ten weight classes who earned their spots on the podium.
READ MORE

Subscribe To Email Updates

Enter your information to receive emails about offers, promotions from NCAA.com and our partners