MISSOULA — Among those players on Montana's football team enjoying this deep postseason ride is quarterback Kris Brown.
It's been a unique career for Brown, a Bozeman High product, who arrived to Montana in 2019 and has been a constant for the Grizzlies in the quarterback room.
"Eye opening," Brown said about when he first got to UM. "Coming from high school to college, I don't think there's really any way that you can prepare yourself for what you're about to face. You've never really been challenged the way that you will be in college and it's eye-opening in the first year for sure. And I think ever since that first year, it's just gotten a little bit more, I wouldn't say easy, but I've gotten more used to it and have acclimated over time."
Brown has been entrenched in a quarterback battle every fall, and he was Montana's primary backup in 2021 and most of 2022 and was called upon multiple times to fill in when injuries hit the team.
In 2021, Brown started in four games, as he began to assimilate to college football as a redshirt freshman. The learning curves were there, but for Brown, the moment meant the world.
"It was special. You know, I was so excited to play in those games, to get my first chance to play as a as a college athlete," Brown said. "And, you know, I was still so wide-eyed at that time. I mean, I was much more acclimated to the setting than I was as a freshman. But still in my second year, you know, I was still just a young kid, I think I was 19. And yeah, it was special. It was special playing in those games. I'll forever hold onto those memories.
"Just looking back, it's really all of those moments combined as like one whole chapter in my life, I guess. And looking back, man, there's a million different things I could say. But it's just hard to compare to anything else. Very demanding, very surreal at moments. And, you know, through the highs and lows, it'll always be something I hold near and dear."
But as time as gone on, Brown's playing time has dwindled, and others have risen up the depth chart at quarterback.
In today's college football world, many would've left the program. But through it all, Brown chose to stick it out at Montana and has exemplified the role as a team player by staying positive, helping where needed and doing whatever he can to support those around him.
"I don't think it's really been super difficult," Brown said. "It's just, you know, no matter what it is, I want to help the guys around me and I want to be here for, you know, the better of the team. And whether that's calling signals or whatever it is, I want to help the team out and I want to play a role in this team's success.
"I try to be someone that any of the younger guys can go to if they have questions. And, you know, I'll give my two cents in the film room and tell the guys what I think. And I just try to help in whatever way I can."
College football was a lifelong dream for Brown growing up, and he's proud he both accomplished it and stayed true to himself, and stayed in the game through the ups and downs.
"Being here now, I don't necessarily take the time to take in the fact that I've gotten to accomplish a childhood dream of mine. And I'm so thankful for that," Brown said. "It's hard to believe that came true. I'm thankful to God for that as well, been there alongside me every step of the way. And, you know, this is something I dreamed about. And it's something that I got to actually live out and forever thankful for that.
"I'm proud to have stuck out (five) years at this university and to have been a good teammate to the guys around me. I'm proud to have been myself throughout this whole period. So thankful for that, proud of that."
Brown was honored on senior day for the Grizzlies before playing rival Montana State, and though he has one year of eligibility left, he's ready to move on to the next chapter in life after this season concludes.
He's graduating this winter with a degree in business management and entrepreneurship, is starting his MBA program in the spring, and is also engaged to be married next summer to fiancé Ellie Scherffius, who also just wrapped up a decorated career with the Griz volleyball program.
Brown has played in 23 games — including two this season — and has five starts in his career. He's completed 144 of 233 passes in his career for 1,460 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. He's also rushed for seven touchdowns at Montana.
His UM career is almost done, but through it all, the game has meant the world to him, and he'll be along for the ride as long as it lasts.
"Knowing the fact that I'm going to be done after this year kind of gives me a little perspective," Brown said. "So trying to just soak it in, taking in all the moments, don't want them to pass me by because I guess these are the last last moments in my college career, and yeah, I've just been trying to take them in as much as I can.
"It's been so special. And it's hard to put into words, just what this place has meant to me, because it's been, you know, my life for the past four and a half years. And it's a beautiful town. I love it here. And, you know, I got to play a game that I love here, got to, you know, get my degree, got to meet my fiancé now. And I'll forever be grateful for this place."