In a little over two weeks, Montana’s coaches will finally be able to break the binds of silence and give their opinion on the Grizzlies’ 2017 recruiting class. But with signing day 15 days away, there is still plenty of work for UM’s coaches to complete.
A handful of uncommitted recruits will spend the next fortnight talking with coaches and hopping on planes to take them from one campus to another as they gather the last remaining intel necessary to determine where they will spend the next four or five years of their lives.
Generally, it is the busiest period of the recruiting season, but for Montana, which brought a bulk of their top-rated recruits to Missoula during the 2016 season, much of the work has been completed. That’s not to say, however, that the Grizzlies’ recruiting class won’t swell between now and National Signing Day on Feb. 1.
A number of in-state recruits could join the class as walk-ons or even partial-scholarship members, while a few out of state players will use the days ahead to make a final decision.
“I’ve been talking to a bunch of Big Sky schools and I’ve been in contact with Army a little bit,” said Robby Hauck of San Diego’s Del Norte High. “I could also go down to San Diego State and check it out too with my dad being there. I’m still trying to figure that out.”
Hauck, who Montana is recruiting as a safety and is the son of former Griz coach Bobby Hauck, has not decided his plans for this upcoming weekend. Hauck’s contact with Montana dates back to the spring of 2016 and will stretch until the final weekend recruits can make official visits before National Signing Day February 1. He said he is scheduled to be in Missoula during the final weekend of January.
Despite the sand quickly running through the hourglass, Hauck said he doesn’t have a top three or top five, a decision many recruits have made public at this point.
“I grew up around this, the whole recruiting process, and I know I have to make a decision soon,” he said.
Hauck is one of at least four defensive backs Montana is waiting to hear from. Tre Bugg, a Williams Field (Arizona) product, was in Missoula last weekend and will be on Army’s campus this Friday and Saturday. Bugg said he is waiting until after he talks with his parents following the trip east to decide which school he will commit to. He earlier identified Air Force, Army and Montana as his top three.
Kendall Sweet, a safety from Tulsa, Oklahoma who also identified Montana as one of his top three, said he is using the final two weeks to visit Missouri State and Stephen F. Austin. Montana recently extended an offer to Ryan Swanson of Eagle, Idaho, continuing its effort to add depth to its secondary.
Montana lost safety Yamen Sanders and corners JR Nelson and TJ Reynard to graduation. Currently, the most updated team roster lists just 11 defensive backs after sophomore Jerrin Williams left the team sometime last week.
Montana is also trying to secure the commitment of Micah Vanderpool, a 6-foot-6, 270-pound offensive lineman from Arizona’s Central High. Vanderpool has become a hot commodity on the recruiting trail, receiving offers from six schools including FBS teams UNLV and Hawaii.
While he will wait until after his visit to Hawaii this weekend to make a decision, Vanderpool said he hasn’t ruled anything out.
“To be honest I would say all the schools have a fair shot if I could say so,” Vanderpool said. “Every school that has talked to me has always been there.”
Montana was Vanderpool’s second offer and the future offensive tackle said the Griz have shown the most interest. Vanderpool said that his mom asked him how many in-home visits can Montana make, to which Griz recruiting coordinator Justin Green jokingly responded, “We get six and we’ll be back.”
As he makes his decision, Vanderpool, who visited Montana on Oct. 15 said he is looking for a school with a strong fan base. Of the schools he visited, Vanderpool said he has found that in one place.
“I come from a school that gets a little love, but I’ve always wanted that whole immersive feeling,” Vanderpool said. “ … I can say that Montana was a very special place. I was walking down the street and so many Griz fans said, ‘Hey, are you going to be a Griz? You gotta be a Griz.
“When we went out to dinner so many people approached coach and myself and kind of talked my ear off. That’s a good feeling because you felt wanted.”
Montana could also be the school of choice for California running back Miles Reed, who listed the Griz among his final three. It’s also possible that Creston Cooledge, an offensive lineman who just visited Weber State, could commit to Montana. In a message to Skyline Sports, Cooledge wrote, “I have not counted anyone out at this time I want to make sure I make the best decision for my education and football career I loved Montana the fans are loyal and I love the direction they are heading.”
Photos by Brooks Nuanez and contributed. All Right Reserved.