Noah Ambuehl doesn’t have to be told what Montana football’s “Return to Dominance” motto means.
Like many kids his age who grew up in Montana, Ambuehl was in the stands cheering for the Grizzlies during Bobby Hauck’s very successful first term as head coach of the Griz.
“I went to games there since I was like 5,” Ambuehl said. “I remember being at the South Dakota State game where they came back and won in that playoff game where they were down quite a bit (Montana rallied from a 41-14 third quarter deficit for a 61-48 win). … Whenever you went to a game, you just expected them to win because of how well they recruited and how good their teams were. I just remember it being fun to watch all the time.”
Now, the tight end from Great Falls Central Catholic is part of the recruiting class that will be expected to bring back that feeling for Griz fans. Ambuehl committed to the Griz in late June.
He’s following in the footsteps of his mother, who attended UM for a time, and his sister, who just graduated from the school.
“So, ever since I was a little kid, I always dreamed about going to play there … and then academically, it’s just a great fit for me, too, and coach Hauck has a great staff there,” Ambuehl said. “He does a great job recruiting, and it’s hard to say no. … [Committing to Montana was] always something that I’ve wanted to do, and for it to actually happen, it was a crazy day. I still can’t really put into words how good it felt.”
Ambuehl has family connections on the current Griz roster, as well.True freshman wide receiver and defending state high school Player of the Year Gabe Sulser is a cousin on his mom’s side.
The two grew up in different cities, but Ambuehl would always hang out with Sulser and watch his games whenever Billings Senior came to Great Falls to play CMR.
Now, his older cousin is showing the path to success in college.
Sulser scored on the first touch of his Montana career, a 58-yard touchdown run against Sacramento State. In a happy coincidence, Ambuehl was in the stands at Washington-Grizzly that day, watching Sulser do what he does best.
“We weren’t really sure what to expect, like, if he was going to get a chance to be out there and play,” Ambuehl said. “When he took that reverse against Sacramento State to the house, I was at the game, and it happened right in front of me, and it was just crazy to see how excited he was. I feel really good for him, and I’m excited for him.”
Ambuehl, at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds, is built slightly differently from his slighter cousin, but brings the athleticism, if not quite at the same level.
He’s started at quarterback for Great Falls Central since he was a freshman, but was recruited by the Griz as a tight end after trying the spot at a few camps and 7-on-7 tournaments.
He joins Joey Elwell of Idaho as tight end recruits in Montana’s Class of 2019.
With Bryson Deming and Matt Rensvold already seeing time at the position as redshirt freshmen for Montana this year, it seems that the Griz are committed to keeping the position as an important part of the offense.
They’ve run a number of formations with two or even three tight ends this year. Ambuehl thinks he’ll fit right in.
“I really like seeing that,” Ambuehl said. “We’re going to recruit a lot of tight ends, so it gives us chances to get out there and get opportunities to play, it looks like. So, I think it’s going to be exciting. … I play quarterback here at Central, so I’m not really sure how I’m going to be as a tight end, but if you see me run, I like to be pretty physical. I’m excited to get to block, actually.”
That’s a good answer, because Hauck’s first teams at Montana were based on physicality and lots and lots of Montana kids.
If he pans out, Ambuehl would check both boxes at once.
And helping the Grizzlies return to dominance would be just a little extra special for the kid who grew up at Washington-Grizzly Stadium.
“I like the coaches’ goals, how they’re all about trying to win the Big Sky Conference, beat Montana State, and trying to get to that level they were at when Bobby was first there,” Ambuehl said. “I’m really excited to just buy into that and be a part of that.”
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