Sevier County's Ben Huskey gets a shot at Division I golf

Apr. 16, 2014 @ 05:36 PM

 When Ben Huskey sat down between his parents on Wednesday and signed his national letter of intent, he sealed a deal that seemed improbable a year ago.

The Sevier County golfer was sidelined for nearly half a year after suffering a thumb injury late in his junior season. It seemed then that his opportunity to play Division I college golf had slipped away.

“I knew I had to do my best every match (my senior year) to see if I could get somebody to look at me,” Huskey said. “Your junior year is your biggest year of recruiting. I missed most of it, so that really, really hurt me.”

A third-place finish in October's Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association AAA state championships was enough to capture the attention of Tennessee Tech coach Polk Brown. A path to Huskey’s dream of playing Division I golf was revealed when Brown emailed Huskey the day after that tournament.

“Just when it seemed God had closed all the doors, he opened one at Tennessee Tech,” said Huskey’s dad Richard. “The school was always in his top three anyway. After he met with coach Brown, they really liked each other. Before we left that first day we had an offer from him.”

The younger Huskey now heads to Cookeville on a partial scholarship, getting the chance to play in college golf’s top division in the Ohio Valley Conference. He plans to join his sister Grace in studying Civil Engineering at TTU.

Huskey was joined by his extended family, classmates, high school coaches Chad Owenby and Ken Wright, and Smoky Bears co-athletic director Bryan Atchley at Wednesday’s signing. He leaves the high school as one of its most accomplished golfers ever after last fall's run at the state tournament.

Huskey was Seiver County’s top golfer his last three years after debuting in the second slot his freshman year. His honors over that stretch are almost too long to list, including being named All-District, Region, and State. He set a school scoring record by going 5-under-par in a nine-hole match and averaged 1.2 strokes under-par in nine-hole matches in 2013. 

“Ben takes very few days off year-round,” Owenby said. “This winter, I’d drive by the golf course when there’s no way at my age now I’d be out there playing, but when I was a kid I played a lot in the winter. Ben would be the only person I’d see out there. Actually, Ben and (Bears freshman) Spencer (Cross) would be out there together. They’d be the only two people at the golf course. That’s what it takes to play at the next level.”

That work ethic and Huskey’s talent had drawn the interest of Tennessee and Virginia Tech early in his career but a tendinitis injury as a sophomore and that thumb injury limited his options. The email from Brown created a whole new possibility.

“It’s a huge relief,” Huskey said. “After he said he really wanted me to come play there and offered me a scholarship, it was just like, ‘All right, I’ve made it.’ ... I think I ended up where I was supposed to.”