.....but for all intents and purposes, Haberer remains humble and laid back.
That is until you ask about how he ended up at the Academy.
Don't get him wrong; Haberer loves Navy, and wouldn't have had his college experience any other way. He's focused and determined, a leader on and off-the-field who hopes to enter the Marine Corps after graduation, and he's determined to do so on the heels of another successful year on the gridiron in 2009. Yet when it comes to recalling his senior year at Liberty Hills High School, Haberer can't help but hide the fact that his college football career almost never came to be.
"I never applied for any other colleges," admits the reflective senior. "I just kind of assumed that I was going to get a football scholarship somewhere, but never got it….I had no other offers…there were a couple of looks, but there were no offers."
Like many football players recruited by Navy, Haberer found himself on the short end of the offer sheet despite having compiled an impressive list of prep accomplishments. How exactly the former three-sport standout and District's Most Valuable Player went so under-recruited is still something of a mystery for Haberer, who says he wasn't even planning on attending college after initial interest from Rice and SMU dropped off. Whatever the reasoning was, an eleventh hour phone call from former Navy assistant Todd Spencer may just have saved the four-time All-District selection from football obscurity, offering the talented Texas linebacker his one – and only – chance to continue his football career.
"It came down to the end of recruiting season, and coach Spencer gave me a call and said that some guy from Rice has tipped him off about me," recalls Haberer. "I got lucky…I wasn't even going to go to college, so I feel pretty lucky."
Unfamiliar with Navy up until his contact with Spencer in the spring of 2005, Haberer nevertheless remained open minded about attending the Naval Academy Preparatory School later that fall. It was there that Haberer met recently graduated Navy football player Bobby McClarin, who at the time was working as an assistant coach before reporting to his first naval duty station. Tough, disciplined, and a testament to the rich tradition of Navy football, McClarin helped Haberer embrace his role as a soon-to-be Navy linebacker.
"He is one crazy Navy football nut," says Haberer in reference to McClarin. "I got plenty of information from him [at NAPS] about the responsibilities of the position, and I'm proud to be a part of that tradition."
Navy's recent and burgeoning linebacker tradition is one many fans are well versed in, with names such as Lane Jackson, Bobby McClarin, and Rob Caldwell coming to mind almost without pause. But when it comes to talking about Navy's present group of linebackers, most fans and analysts inevitably think of Ross Pospisil and Clint Sovie, whose gaudy statistics and game-changing heroics have made them the heirs apparent in the tradition-rich line. Yet to overlook Haberer as part of that line, says Navy defensive coordinator Buddy Green, would be to forget two years of hard-nosed play that has helped the Midshipmen stay at the top of inter-service academy play.
"People sometimes overlook him, and sometimes I think Tony comes off as the quiet one or the silent one who gets overlooked," explains Green, who adds that Haberer, like Pospisil, is cross-trained at both of Navy's inside linebacker positions. "Just looking back at the last two years I remember Tony making some big pressure sacks and some big tackles for us."
Check back soon for part II.