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John Huarte, Heisman Winner NOVEMBER 2, 1964

Nov. 19, 2001
Nov. 19, 2001

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Nov. 19, 2001

College Basketball Preview 2001-02

John Huarte, Heisman Winner NOVEMBER 2, 1964

John Huarte left football 26 years ago, but the Heisman
Trophy-winning Notre Dame quarterback is still making his mark
in sports arenas. His company, Arizona Tile, which imports and
distributes ceramic tile and natural stone, supplied marble
columns for Bank One Ballpark, Italian porcelain flooring for
the Staples Center and granite pavement slabs for Invesco Field
at Mile High. To find the materials for these venues, as well as
for commercial buildings and homes, Huarte, 58, travels the
world, from the Andes to the mountains of Ukraine, with
geologists and buyers. "We're making something beautiful and
lasting," Huarte says. "I always knew I would build this
business, but it's grown way beyond my dreams."

This is an article from the Nov. 19, 2001 issue

He could also be describing his senior year at Notre Dame.
Huarte would have been sidelined for the entire 1964 season had
he heeded the advice of the three doctors who advised surgery to
repair the shoulder he had separated in a spring scrimmage.
However, Ara Parseghian, who had taken over as Irish coach in
January of that year, decided to get his sidearmed passer one
last medical opinion. That doctor advised Huarte that the
shoulder would heal without surgery. Huarte kept practicing, and
by the fall he was throwing pain-free. He led the Irish to a 9-1
season, their first winning fall in six years. He passed for
2,062 yards and 16 touchdowns, and set 12 school records, four
of which still stand. "I lucked out in playing for Ara," Huarte
says. "After a practice, four days before our first game, he
looked me in the eye and said, 'John, you're my quarterback. I
want you to get out there, relax, and if things don't go right,
if you make a mistake, you're still my quarterback.' I'll never
forget that."

Huarte played sparingly in the AFL and the NFL over 10 years,
then finished his career in the now defunct WFL, in which he
played two seasons (1974-75) for the Memphis Southmen. There,
sharing time with Danny White, Huarte completed 231 of 330 passes
for 2,966 yards. Still, his NFL career had not been without its
rewards. One August day in 1965, while practicing with the Jets
at Shea Stadium, he met Eileen Devine, a St. John's student who
was working as an elevator operator. The two married the
following spring and now live in Pacific Palisades, Calif. They
have three daughters, two sons and two grandsons. Three of
Huarte's children work with him in Arizona Tile. Since starting
the business 25 years ago with money he saved while playing in
the NFL, Huarte has seen his company grow to the point that it
has showrooms in five states and offices in Brazil, the Czech
Republic and Italy. "I've been incredibly lucky," says Huarte,
"but I do have a knack for sticking with things."

--Hali Helfgott

COLOR PHOTO: JAMES DRAKE (COVER) Perseverance gave Huarte a shot at the Heisman Trophy and helped him build a rock-solid business.COLOR PHOTO: JASON WISE [See caption above]