Montana stokes quarterback competition with JC transfer Humphrey


The Griz landed the quarterback they desperately needed.

It remains to be seen how the upcoming competition for the starting job under center plays out in Missoula. At the very least, Cam Humphrey’s addition to the Griz football program gives Montana two relatively veteran options under center, each transfer hungry to the job after the departure of incumbent sophomore Gresch Jensen.

“It’s is something (head) Coach (Bobby) Hauck and I have discussed extensively and you have to love to compete at this level,” said Humphrey, a transfer from Saddleback Community College in Mission Viejo, California who will join the Grizzlies officially later this month. “Competition makes great players.”

Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed (11)/by Jason Bacaj

Humphrey, a 6-foot-2, 192-pounder with a strong arm and smooth mobility in the pocket, started his career as a walk-on at Boise State. The Issaquah, Washington native will compete for Montana’s starting quarterback position with Dalton Sneed, a dual-threat who traveled a similar path as Humphrey to Montana. Snead redshirted at UNLV before starting five games in 2016. He transferred and played at Fort Scott Community College in Kansas last season.

During spring football at UM, Sneed engaged in a heated competition with Gresch Jensen, a 2017 Freshman All-American who threw for 2,531 yards and 20 touchdowns in seven starts last season. By the end of the first 15 spring practices of Hauck’s second stint as Montana’s head coach, Snead appeared to be the front-runner. Less than a week after spring ball ended, Jensen declared his intention to transfer.

That departure combined with Nathan Dick’s transfer to Rocky Mountain College and senior Caleb Hill’s move to tight end during spring ball left Montana with just Snead and redshirt freshman Tanner Wilson as quarterbacks in the program.

During Montana’s spring game, Sneed orchestrated an 11-play, 65-yard drive capped by a 16-yard dart to senior Keenan Curran for a touchdown on the first possession. The 6-foot-1, 200-pound junior completed 13 of his 16 passing attempts for 136 yards. Montana ran 75 plays for 439 yards, including 362 yards through the air.

“The offense is just going to get better and better,” Sneed said following the spring finale. “From Day 1, we have been trying to get better and better and that really showed for us as an offense today.

“We made tremendous progress from the beginning of spring. We got better each practice. We did really well today.”

Montana’s newest quarterback comes to the Garden City with the knowledge of the competition he will face during fall camp in August.

“I know Dalton feels the same way about competition,” Humphrey said. “It’s going to be a healthy competition and in turn, it will make the team better. That’s the ultimate goal: to make the team as good as we can be. Whoever is leading the front, that’s in the coaches’ hands so we are just going to compete in the end and see what happens.”

Saddleback Community College transfer quarterback Cam Humphrey/photo by Sandra Grasso

Humphrey completed 65.2 percent of his passes for 2,187 yards and 19 touchdowns last season at Saddleback. His best outing came in a 48-45 shootout win over El Camino. That day, Humphrey completed 35 of his 54 attempts for 430 yards and five touchdowns. The week before, he threw four touchdowns in a 56-27 win over Los Angeles Harbor. He completed 27 of 36 passes for 737 yards and two touchdowns jn a 35-13 win over traditional power Palomar.

“We evaluated him on our own among a pool of guys who were interested in joining our team, and Cam was the player everyone had ranked number one. So, it’s nice to get your number one choice. He’s going to come in and provide competition and depth if not be the starter right away,” Hauck, Montana’s first-year head coach, said in a Montana press release.

“He’s got a good arm, he’s got a good feel for the game, he runs well, and he’s very accurate. All those things add up to a guy that has a chance to be a good quarterback.”

The Gauchos posted an 8-3 record behind an offense that set program records for points scored (483) and points-per-game (43.9) in 2017. Saddleback advanced to the Southern California Regional Playoffs. The program helped 25 players earn Division I transfer opportunities. Over the last seven years, Saddleback has had five recruiting cycles in which at least 25 players have made commitments to four-year programs.

Former Gauchos earned Power 5 offers, Humphrey said, including earning opportunities with NC State, TCU and Louisville. He said the high level of competition in the Southern California Football Association accelerated his improvement and progression.

The junior college experience after just one season at BSU helped Humphrey earn looks from FBS programs like Arizona, Arizona State, and Colorado State, but was told he’d have to develop for another season at the junior college ranks.

“It really came down to taking the visit,” Humprhey said. “I had heard about the tradition, the type of winning that is known over there in Montana. When I got there for the visit, it felt like home.

“I had never been there and I was very impressed. Just stepping off the plane looking at the scenery, it took my breath away right away. The small-town feel, it’s great and it has everything you are looking for. It felt good to me. On campus, walking around, it’s beautiful. It really felt nice to me.”

Saddleback Community College transfer quarterback Cam Humphrey/photo by Sandra Grasso

Humphrey said the offense that Hauck and offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach sold him on “really fits who I am as a player.”

“Down at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, we ran a very similar offense, quick game and then we are going to make them miss. And I actually did a similar thing over at Issaquah as well. It really got me excited that I could fit in and get going fast.”

Humphrey’s time with the Broncos ended in short order, but he doesn’t say much as to why other than “I had to move on.” He calls his junior college experience “humbling and you definitely get a love for the grind.”

“That’s definitely made me into the player I am now and the kind of player I think can help the Montana Griz win a national championship,” Humphrey said.

The newest Griz will head down to Mission Viejo, California to gather his possessions, then plans on being back in Montana sometime the week of June 18. He said he wants to get to Missoula as soon as he can to start “making connections with players.” He will take a class UM’s second summer school session.

During his senior year of high school at the affluent high school in a suburb East of Seattle, Humphrey led the KingCo 4A in passing yards and earned second-team all-league honors. That earned his a shot at BSU. Leaving the Broncos and joining the Gauchos have now led him into what is sure to be a competitive quarterback battle with the Griz.

“When I got that call from Coach Rosenbach, I was nothing but humbled,” Humphrey said. “To transfer to an awesome program, I can’t wait to get out there and start competing. As a competitor, I think anyone else would feel the same.”

Photos courtesy of Humphrey or attributed. All Rights Reserved.

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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