(Editor's note: This is the first in an eight-part series highlighting the position groups and specialists for the Montana Grizzlies football team. For Part 2 on the running backs, click here. For Part 3 on the wide receivers, click here. For Part 4 on the offensive line, click here. For Part 5 on the defensive line, click here. For Part 6 on the linebackers, click here. For Part 7 on the defensive backs, click here. For Part 8 on the special teams unit, click here).
MISSOULA -- With Montana football now in full swing for fall camp, it's time to take a look at the position groups that the Grizzlies will put on the field this upcoming fall.
UM is due for an interesting fall battle between quarterbacks Cam Humphrey and Kris Brown after both showcased their skills well during the abridged spring schedule.
On Monday to open camp, UM coach Bobby Hauck said Humphrey enters the 2021 season as the front-runner to be the team's starting QB come Sept. 4 against Washington, but the senior continues to be challenged daily by Brown for the top spot, something Humphrey feels makes the duo better overall.
"You got to come out here and not be demoralized by a younger guy coming and pushing you and rather see it as an opportunity to grow," Humphrey said. "Being where I’m at, a COVID senior at 23 years old, I know some guys would be demoralized looking at Kris pushing at me, but I’m really thankful to have a guy like Kris with his talent level pushing me from the back because I know that’s going to make me the best player I can be and the best player for this team."
"(Brown) comes out here and plays ball. He comes out here and slings that thing. I see him throw a good pass and I'm like shoot I have to go throw a good pass now too. That's kind of the mentality there."
With five starts under his belt, including the two games in the spring, Humphrey's experience at the position has helped him going forward.
Humphrey -- a Washington native who spent a year at Boise State, then went to Saddleback Community College before joining Montana -- threw five touchdowns in two games in the spring as Montana's starter. Through his Montana career, Humphrey has completed 62% of his passes and thrown for a total of 1,474 yards, tallying 13 touchdowns and three interceptions along the way. Humphrey has also shown his ability with his feet and ran for a score in the spring as well.
With fall underway, Humphrey's approach is one of focus and positivity.
"When I was younger, I’d come out here and get onto the field and I’d tell myself it’s going to be a good day today," Humphrey said. "At the age I’m at now and being a senior, I tell myself that before every play, before every drive, before every period. That’s that laser focus in every second of the practice that you got to have. And the second it slips is when you make a mistake and the whole practice or game can turn."
Brown, meanwhile, threw for one score and ran for another during the spring as he made his in-game debut for the Griz.
The Bozeman High grad, who redshirted in 2019, flashed plenty of potential during that time, and like Humphrey said it's all about improving as a group as each player vies for playing time.
"We have a saying in our QB room, 'It’s all for one and one for all,'" Brown said. "At the end of the day at quarterback only one person can play, and we all know that coming in here. There’s no animosity or anything in our relationship. We talk everyday, we tell each other what we see on plays and we communicate to try to get better and make each other better."
Brown finished the spring 8 for 12 for 112 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed for 41 yards and a score. He said the biggest growth from when he joined Montana to now is the mental part of the game, such as reading defenses.
"We want the quarterbacks to keep competing," Hauck said. "Competition makes everybody better, no matter the position. It's good for whoever is in front to feel the pressure and whoever is behind in second or third to keep pushing and trying to get into that spot so I think it's really healthy."
There were growing pains in Brown's first action as a Grizzly, but that's where Humphrey's leadership came in.
"It’s no neat, perfect process. It’s sloppy and it takes time and it’s not easy just to go from being a freshman showing up to playing in a game," Brown said. "You got to get better everyday and Cam, you know he’s been here everyday since I have been so he’s been huge in just pushing me, leading me and just helping me become a better player."
"The spring was great. Honestly it was nice just being able to get back on the field and be able to play in a real game for my first time since high school. Just getting those reps in an actual game were huge."
Griz quarterbacks on the 2021 roster by number
No. 2, Cam Humphrey, R-SR, 6-foot-2, 201 pounds, Issaquah, WA
No. 8, Daniel Britt, FR, 5-11, 185 pounds, Las Vegas, NV
No. 10, Robbie Patterson, R-SO, 5-11, 196 pounds, Medford, OR
No. 12, Kris Brown, R-FR, 6-4, 220 pounds, Bozeman, MT