MISSOULA -- When Colin Bingham was growing up, watching the Montana Grizzlies make deep football postseason runs in December was a tradition of sorts.
Now, a redshirt senior tight end with the Griz, Bingham is experiencing that tradition firsthand.
Bingham is another of a number of key seniors for the Grizzlies who redshirted in 2015, when Montana last made the postseason. While no current Grizzly had seen a playoff game with Montana up until last Saturday's win over Southeastern Louisiana, for seniors like Bingham, it was the reward of five years worth of hard work.
"Growing up that was always the expectation, seeing the Griz playing in the playoffs," Bingham said. "We weren't really there the last three years or so, but now we're kind of back here and it's definitely where we want to be. We're not done yet, but there's definitely a good feeling.
"It's good to be playing in December. If you're doing that, you're doing things right."
Bingham, a Missoula native, Big Sky High School graduate and son of former Griz great and 13-year NFL veteran Guy Bingham, said finally getting to this point in his football career is credited to Montana's senior leaders and coaches.
"It means a lot to me. I think it's a testament to all of the older guys on the team and how good of leaders they are. Guys like Dalton (Sneed), Dante (Olson), Jesse (Sims) and Josh Sandry," Bingham said. "Those guys are really good leaders and everyone has bought into this coaching staff. Some of the younger guys saw how invested a lot of us older guys have been and it's kind of come to fruition throughout the whole entire team."
While Montana was on track to get back to the postseason about a month ago, Bingham said there was a feel around the summer where he felt this Grizzly team could do something special. Players were working hard in the summer and that trickled into fall camp and went from there.
Heading into Friday's game against Weber State, Bingham has racked up 56 catches for 618 yards and seven touchdowns in his career. This season, he has 16 grabs for 193 yards and two scores.
Over the past two seasons, Bingham has made a name for himself as the man on the receiving end of a pair of trick plays Montana has run, where he has caught touchdowns, including last year against Northern Iowa and this season versus Monmouth.
"It's always fun, the trick plays," Bingham said with a laugh. "They catch teams off guard a lot of times and it's really fun to be a part of them and be on the positive end of that."
While the fall graduation at the University of Montana is on Saturday, Bingham will finish up in the spring with a major in health and human performance and minors in biology and psychology. Bingham's ultimate goal after graduating is medical school.
He said if he was to choose a medical path now, he would focus on cardiology. Initially he wanted to do physical therapy, but medicine ultimately interested him more.
Being a full-time athlete is busy enough, but with a difficult major added on, Bingham made sure he gave it his all in both facets of his life so he would be set up for the future.
"It's definitely challenging. There are some classes I haven't been able to take with football," Bingham said. "It definitely teaches you good time-management skills. With as much schooling as I've had to do, I feel like I've done a pretty good job staying pretty committed with football and doing the little things that require being a good football player, as well."
But all of that is way down the road. And while Bingham and the rest of the team are focused on Friday's quarterfinal playoff game against Weber State in Ogden, Utah, he said his favorite memories with Montana over the years have been the ones with his teammates.
"They make football the fun part. It's fun being out in front of the fans, but most everything is behind the scenes," Bingham said. "When you get to spend that time with some of your best friends that you'll have for the rest of your life, it's really special.
"If we're not focused on football, we're messing around, joking, giving someone some grief. So it's an awesome time to spend with your teammates."