Griz ink 21 in Montana-heavy early signing period

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Montana head coach Bobby Hauck filled his team’s coffers with 20 prep stars and one transfer on the first day of the December early signing period to make a total of 21 new Grizzlies.

The class marks the first to go through a full recruiting cycle since Hauck returned to Montana in December of 2017. With a large percentage of the class giving their verbal commitments well before Wednesday’s signing day, it was apparent to the veteran coach that enthusiasm for Griz football is high – almost too high.

“Recruiting was fun this year, and I really like the guys that signed with us today,” said Hauck. “The reception we received from people around Montana and the Western U.S. was tremendous. In fact, we had to put a stop to offering scholarships and taking commitments around the middle of October because we’re on the verge of being done.”

Hauck and his staff didn’t have to travel far to find his next group of Griz greats. The incoming class of 2019 is bolstered by 11 Montana recruits who will cross the state to further their careers and the majority of the overall group hail from the Pacific Northwest.

“Montana guys have been, and always will be a priority for us. We are the University of Montana, and we want to recruit every Montana kid we think can help us win a championship,” said Hauck. “We’ll go elsewhere for the rest, and the guys that are joining us from outside of our borders are tremendous young men, and we’re excited about them as well.”

While the class of 2019 is deep in numbers, it’s also long on talent with five (six with Dries) of Montana’s prep recruits playing in a state championship game last season. Receiver Jesse Owens and cornerback Trevin Gradney each won a state AA championship with Billings West, while Ryder Meyer won the state B title with Fairfield. Ryan Tirrell of Loyola and Noah Ambuehl of Great Falls Central also reached title games in their respective divisions.

Not only is the incoming class of ‘19 decorated on the field, it is also a strong academic class, with 11 players carrying a 3.0 GPA or above.

“There are a lot of high-GPA, high-test score individuals in this class,” said Hauck. “To be able to recruit that caliber of a student as well as athlete shows the allure of this campus and this football program.”

Positionally, Montana put emphasis on recruiting heft up front on both sides of the ball with four O-Lineman signing and three on the D-line. Leading the class of lineman is UM’s only transfer in Kordell Pillans, a 6-6, 325-pound native of Kodiak, Alaska who spent the past three seasons at junior college powerhouse Mesa Community College in Arizona.

“It’s my belief you go as far as your two fronts take you, and that’s a process. It’s not something that can be answered overnight, but we are building it the right way from the ground up. Soon, if you look at the frames and the size of these people we’ve recruited, you’ll see we have a chance to be a dominant football team in the future,” said Hauck.

The early signing period continues through December 21.

Incoming Griz Football Class of 2019

1. Noah Ambuehl TE 6-3 220 Great Falls, Mont. / Great Falls Central Catholic HS

2. Johnny Barthel OL 6-5 260 Bellevue, Wash. / Bellevue HS

3. Dillon Botner OL/ATH 6-6 225 Whitefish, Mont. / Whitefish HS

4. Kris Brown QB 6-4 210 Bozeman, Mont. Bozeman Senior HS

5. Elias Dewaters RB 5-10 185 Missoula, Mont. / Sentinel HS

6. Kale Edwards LB 6-5 210 Coeur d’Alene, Idaho / Coeur d’Alene HS

7. Joey Elwell TE 6-3 230 Meridian, Idaho / Mountain View HS

8. Max Feight S 6-2 180 Whitehall, Mont. / Whitehall HS

9. Trevin Gradney CB 6-0 170 Billings, Mont. / Billings West HS

10. Alex Hurlburt DE 6-3 220 Salem, Ore. / West Salem HS

11. Noah Kaschmitter DL 6-3 225 Grangeville, Idaho / Grangeville HS

12. Jacob McGourin DL 6-5 230 Cheney, Wash. / Cheney HS

13. Ryder Meyer S 5-9 160 Fairfield, Mont. / Fairfield HS

14. Nick Ostmo RB 6-0 215 Portland, Ore. / Lincoln HS

15. Jesse Owens WR 5-9 175 Billings Mont. / Billings West HS

16. Kordell Pillans OL 6-6 325 Kodiak, Alaska / Kodiak HS / Mesa CC

17. Garrison Poetzl DL 6-4 250 Billings, Mont. / Billings Senior HS

18. Dumitru Salagor OL 6-6 250 Vancouver, Wash. / Union HS

19. Ryan Simpson WR 6-6 190 Bozeman, Mont. / Bozeman Senior HS

20. Ryan Tirrell LB 6-2 205 Missoula, Mont. / Loyola Sacred Heart

21. Corbin Walker CB 5-11 170 Renton, Wash. / Hazen Senior HS

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