Call Me The Fireman

If not for the insistence of then University of Cincinnati head coach Mark Dantoino; Mike Windt might be putting out fires in the city of Cincinnati. Instead, Windt keeps fires from happening on the Bearcats special teams as one of the best long snappers in college football.

Mike Windt knows all about playing football at a high level and winning. As a former Elder Panther, Windt saw his share of big games including two Division One State Championship victories. But Windt didn't hear football calling out to him in college and looked to take a different path.

"After high school I really didn't want to play football," Windt told Bearcat Insider after practice. "I made the decision to be a fireman and had starter fireman's training when Coach Dantonio told me he really wanted me to come to Cincinnati and be a long snapper."

While Windt gave in to his fireman dreams he found the desire to be part of the Bearcats football program and success followed him to campus.

"I really don't know what to say. It seems like everywhere I've gone rings have followed. In high school I got two state championship rings at Elder. And when I first get here we had our first ten win season and played in the Bowl and I got a ring from there. Last year we won the Big East Championship and went to the Orange Bowl where I got a big ring from. So I don't know; it's been a long road but it's paid off and I really love it here."

For Windt its hard to believe he's spending his final camp at Camp Higher Ground.

"It's pretty crazy. I've been here since Coach Dantonio's been here. Lot has changed but the same thing as always, it's hot. It's been nice all summer then we get out here and it's hot. It's just another year at camp."

While this may be his final go around, Mike Windt knows the road he took to UC is so different than many of his teammates.

"Yea I really did do it the hard way. I didn't even want to play football after high school. But I ended up playing football. Coach Dantonio wanted me to come in and snap so I did and one thing led to another after that. I mean it's been a pretty long road as I'm one of the oldest guys on the team. But I'm finally here and it may finally pay off."

While some joke around about the lack of activity the members of the special teams do during a practice, Windt knows his day is a lot longer than many of his teammates.

"A normal day for me is to come out here about 45-minutes to an hour before practice. Then we snap, kick and get lose because everyone else gets to come out and get stretched in FSA. By the time everyone else gets out here we're already stretched and had an hour of practice in. So during a normal practice we only get two or three periods during practice or like today we didn't get any periods. So we went in and lifted and just hung out. I think this is why were all so close as we spend almost every minute together. So a normal day for me is to come out about an hour before practice and snap because you've got to get better the way you have to get better."

This past spring one of Mike's close friends found his named called during the NFL Draft, with long snapping being an art form does Mike hold any dreams for an NFL future?

"I wouldn't be playing right now if I didn't think I could do it. I definitely want to do it and definitely think I can. My personal goal is to be the long snapper that gets drafted next year. I don't have very many personal goals but that's the one. I always try and look out for the team and do what is best for the team in the way we punt, but for a personal goal that's it; to get drafted."

But Mike was quick to point out his good friend has yet to come back and treat the guys he use to hangout with.

"No, Kevin doesn't spend money (laughing). He's not given me anything and it's not a big deal because he's always been that way and I don't think he's going to change."

Looking back Mike knows when he made the choice to attend Cincinnati and play football some scratched their heads. Now Mike is considered someone who set the stage for future local products to stay home.

"When I first came here it wasn't popular to come to UC. Everyone talked about Notre Dame, Florida, Miami Florida and schools like Tennessee. But when I came here everybody was like you play for UC? But I like it here. My family is here and I grew up here. And look now what we've come to be; Big East Champions and hopefully another year as Big East Champs this season and a BCS game."

About ready to earn his degree, Mike Windt already has a backup plan in place incase his dream of playing in the NFL passes him by.

"I think I'll go back to being a fireman like I was before I came here. I was going to fire school before I came to UC. I'm really confident I can make it to the NFL but if it doesn't work out I think I'm going to go back to fire school and end up being a fireman like I had planned on the first time.

After Mike talked about his fireman days we just had to ask about how he came about being at fire school to begin with.

"Right as I was finishing high school I saw that being a fireman was a good paying job. I'd made the decision not to play football anymore and it was just a very good job and something I wanted to do for a while. But it just didn't work out back then because I came here. But I'm happy to be here."

So we should just call you the fireman?

Yes, call me the Fireman.

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