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Grizzlies' top performers honored

by UM Communications and Daily Inter Lake
| November 21, 2023 12:00 AM

MISSOULA — Montana head coach Bobby Hauck and his staff honored some of the Grizzlies' top performers of the year on Sunday, at the annual team awards banquet at the DoubleTree Hotel.

Three positional awards were presented along with three awards for "most inspirational player," "hardest hitter," and the "player who best exemplifies Griz football." Also presented were the Hauck Family Special Teams Player of the Year Award and the Scout Team Offensive and Defensive Player of the Year Awards.

Eleven  players were honored for their 2023 performances in maroon and silver. Voting for all awards was conducted by the players, with the coaching staff selecting the scout team players of the year. The team will vote for the Steve Carlson MVP Award at the conclusion of the season, which is also when the coaches will vote for the offensive and defensive MVPs.

Freshman running back Eli Gillman was presented the Terry Dillon Award for outstanding back or receiver after leading the team in rushing yards with 857 to date.

Senior center and team captain AJ Forbes made this 38th career start against Montana State on Saturday and was presented the Paul Weskamp Award for the team’s outstanding offensive lineman.

For a second straight year the Sims-Miller Award for outstanding defensive lineman went to tackle Alex Gubner, whose numbers don’t always show on the stat sheet but have been pivotal to Montana’s stifling defensive performance this season.

The Tony Barbour Award for the player "who best exemplifies outstanding practice habits and makes an unselfish contribution to the betterment of the Grizzly Football Team" also went to a pair of defensive standouts, with linebackers Levi Janacaro of Missoula and Braxton Hill of Anaconda sharing the honor.

This year's Pat Norwood Award winner for most inspirational player went to receiver Sawyer Racanelli, a man who battled back from two knee injuries to make his return to action this season.

Named after a Grizzly Sports Hall of Famer and former NFL Defensive MVP Doug Betters, Missoula native Tyler Flink earned the Golden Helmet award for the team's hardest hitter a season after he earned the Hauck Family Special Teams Player of the Year award in 2022.

This season’s Hauck Family Special Teams award went to another Montanan in Garrett Graves The senior out of Eureka was featured on almost all of UM’s specialist units, returning five kickoffs for 69 yards and putting in multiple big hits on coverage teams.

The future of Grizzly football was also honored by the coaches: Lineman Dylan Smith of Whitehall and linebacker Clay Oven out of Billings Central were co-recipients of the defensive scout team player of the year, while lineman Michael Ray was named offensive scout team player of the year.

The Grizzlies have a bye into the second round of the FCS playoffs, with a home game against either Lafayette or Delaware at 7 p.m. on Dec. 2.

Earlier that day, at 3 p.m., Montana State will play either North Dakota State or Drake.

Montana State doesn’t currently hold an awards banquet.


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