MISSOULA — The 2019 football season is still a month and a half away, but the Montana Grizzlies have already got a jump start on 2020.
Hamilton star quarterback Carson Rostad became the first verbal commitment of Montana’s next class, and two western Montana receivers recently joined him.
For Kalispell Glacier’s Drew Deck and Missoula Sentinel’s Jaxon Lee, where to go to college was decided largely by their memories from childhood.
“Growing up, I always wanted to go there,” said Deck. “So that’s awesome to have that opportunity. As soon as it came up, kind of jumped on that.”
“Came down to who did I like more when I was a little kid,” said Lee. “I don’t know, I just remember I told my grandpa one time, ‘Grandpa, I’ll be down there one day.’”
The two recruits will live a dream shortly and bring plenty of athleticism to the future Grizzlies.
Deck helps Glacier on the basketball court and on the track, but he shines most as a receiver and cornerback. As a junior, he gained 781 yards receiving and scored seven touchdowns for the Wolfpack. He looks at the success of similarly built inside receivers at Montana and can’t wait to line up in the slot.
“Some of the guys I’ve watched, like Jerry Louie-McGee play, and Gabe Sulser, guys like that who have played that position, that’s definitely something for sure,” Deck said.
Lee broke out as a small-town star in his sophomore season, gaining more than 1,000 yards receiving and scoring more than 20 touchdowns as Drummond-Philipsburg ran all the way to the 8-Man state championship. The Titans defended their title with another undefeated season last fall, and Lee became even more unstoppable.
The Griz, along with rival Montana State, heavily recruited the star, so playing for a small school didn’t hurt his future. But he did transfer to Sentinel for his senior season, which will let him grow comfortable with the 11-man game before he suits up for Montana.
“I think that it’s something that will help me in the future,” said Lee. “I don’t have to learn all of these, there’s a lot of different concepts in 11-man than 8-man.”
The wideout and safety is looking forward to the bigger field to better use his speed. The Griz haven’t decided if they plan on using him on offense or defense in the future.
Lee and Deck made their college picks much earlier than some recruits, and that will let them play pressure free this season.
“It’s out of the way,” said Lee. “I don’t have anything else to focus on except balling out my senior year.”
“Get that weight off the shoulders,” added Deck. “And now can put all of my focus towards this senior season.”
But for the two lifelong Griz fans, the 2020 season is never far from their minds.
“Yeah, there’s no doubt. I can’t not think about it, you know?” laughed Deck.
“I am way too excited,” said Lee. “I don’t even know what to say about the fall. It’s hard to talk about, because then I get shaky excited.”