John Gregory Huarte (born April 6, 1944) is a former American football quarterback. He played college football at the University of Notre Dame for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team and won the 1964 Heisman Trophy. He then played professionally with a number of teams in the American Football League (AFL), the National Football League (NFL), and the World Football League (WFL) between 1965 and 1975. Huarte was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2005.
Early years and college career
Huarte was born and raised in Orange County, California; his father Joseph was a former minor league baseball player of Basque descent. The family ran an orange and avocado ranch and he graduated from Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana in 1961.
Huarte played college football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. During his sophomore and junior seasons, he averaged only a few minutes per game due to injuries and the Irish went 5–5 and 2–7, respectively. As a senior, however, he became the starting quarterback as the Irish won all but one game during the 1964 season, in which he was selected as an All-American and won the Heisman Trophy. By the end of the season, Huarte threw for 2,062 yards with only 205 passes, an average of over ten yards per pass attempt, many to receiver Jack Snow.
Huarte was a member of the College All-Star team in the annual pre-season game against the defending NFL champions at Chicago's Soldier Field. The 1965 game was in early August against the Cleveland Browns and Huarte was named the game's most valuable player.
Huarte was drafted in 1965 by both pro football leagues: he was the twelfth overall selection of the AFL draft and the 76th pick of the NFL draft. He signed with the AFL's New York Jets over the NFL Philadelphia Eagles, He signed with the Jets, but was beaten out for the starting position by fellow-rookie Joe Namath, the first pick of the AFL draft. who had finished eleventh in the Heisman voting as a senior at Alabama. The AFL Jets thus signed both the Heisman Trophy winner and the Alabama star away from the NFL. Huarte was third on the depth chart behind co-starters Namath and Mike Taliaferro and was on the taxi squad. Following the 1965 season, Huarte was traded to the Boston Patriots for Jim Colclough and the draft rights to Wichita State linebacker/center Jim Waskiewicz.
Subsequently, Huarte did see action as a back-up quarterback for several other professional teams from 1966 to 1972. Out of the NFL in 1973, he played his final two seasons of professional football as the starting quarterback of the Memphis Southmen of the World Football League, which folded before the completion of the 1975 season.
Huarte is a member of The Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C. National Intercollegiate All-American Football Players Honor Roll, and is also the founder and CEO of Arizona Tile Supply, Inc. In 2005, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.