Huarte played college football for the University of Notre Dame. 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.
Subsequently Huarte did see action as a back-up quarterback for several other professional teams from 1966-1972. Out of football 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.