CollegeMontana Grizzlies


Montana Thor: Griz OL Cannon Panfiloff finding success wherever he lines up

Posted at 5:36 PM, Apr 10, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-10 20:38:55-04

MISSOULA — Cannon Panfiloff stands out on the football field, with his 6-foot-6 and near 300-pound frame, but even more with a full head of hair that is reminiscent of a popular comic book character.

"I started growing it out, I'm 22 now, started growing it out when I was about 15," said Panfiloff, a redshirt junior offensive lineman. "Probably when I was 17 because it didn't get like long until I was about 17 or 18, and that's when I started getting called Thor."

But the man nicknamed Thor, who is also a metal head at heart, was a steal for the Montana Grizzlies a year ago when he transferred to UM from Utah Tech.

He had played against the Grizzlies with the Trailblazers in 2021, but in 2023 Panfiloff was now an ally.

"Yeah, it's a lot better on that side," Panfiloff said gesturing toward UM's sideline. "It's a lot better in these shoes, I can tell you that. It's a lot funner but yeah, it was awesome. The first time running out that tunnel, you got 25,000 people cheering for you. There's nothing like it.

"I think it's a lot better knowing what you're getting into. Like coming in last year, it was totally different from my previous school, everything we did. So it's at least better coming in knowing what you're getting into ... being able to better prepare yourself."

The learning curve was steep and fast when Panfiloff joined Montana last winter, but quickly he began to figure things out, and soon he became a Swiss Army Knife on the Grizzlies' offensive line.

Initially a backup tackle for UM's starters on both the right and left sides, Panfiloff, a native of Roy, Utah, began to also fill in at left guard toward the end of the season when the injury bug hit the team. He played in 14 of UM's 15 games last year and he started in four of UM's final five games, three games in the playoffs, including the national championship against South Dakota State.

"It means a lot, especially here," Panfiloff said. "I mean, I just want to do whatever's best for the team. I just want to help out in any way I can. Whether that's on the field or sideline, whatever. I just want to help all my guys win.

"I think it's good to move both sides. Just you never know when someone could go down. So I think it's good to learn both sides. But it's been fun, love playing left side, right side. Wherever they need me to play, I'll play it."

For Panfiloff, once things clicked, he was ready to roll. Experience in the past, plus acclimating with UM's team in the offseason, had him prepared as he stayed ready when his number was called wherever it might be.

Now, it's about building on last year with his role expected to expand as a now leader of the O-line as spring ball winds to a close.

"We had a new O-line coach (Joe Pawlak) coming in. So with some different terminology and stuff, but knowing the plays on the playbook has helped so I haven't had to spend as much time wondering what do I do on this play," Panfiloff said. "I kind of knew from the season so mainly just trying to get bigger, faster, stronger out here so we can move people off the line.

"I want to do what I could to get on the field. You know, that was some extra work or getting a little extra playbook. I just want to get on the field, I want to be able to help my team, but I just want to have a winning season like we did and that was my biggest goal, was coming out here and seeing all those fans, that's what helps motivate us. Can't wait until Saturdays at Washington-Grizzly Stadium."