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'Opportunity I'm thankful for': QB Sam Vidlak ready to take reins for Montana Grizzlies

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Posted at 6:24 PM, Aug 31, 2023

MISSOULA — A full circle is about to be completed this Saturday for Sam Vidlak.

The redshirt sophomore will be a focal point for the Montana Grizzlies at quarterback this season, as he gets set to lead the offense.

"When you're an athlete, you take things kind of a day at a time, but then when you take a step back and kind of look at the big picture of your career, then yeah it's really exciting and you just think back on all of the work you've put in and how long that you've been doing it," Vidlak told MTN Sports. "So it definitely makes it really exciting and it's definitely an opportunity I'm thankful for."

Vidlak will get his shot after joining Montana in the winter — and starred in the spring game back in April — after stops at Oregon State and Boise State. Listed as the co-starter with Central Arkansas transfer Clifton McDowell on Montana's initial two-deep, Vidlak is expected to handle many of the duties at QB as the Griz offense works both players into their system with their varying skillsets.

Initially, Vidlak committed to UM out of high school but flipped to Oregon State where he spent one year and appeared in one game. He then transferred to Boise State for a season and played in three games, and at both schools the budding QB learned a lot at the highest level.

"You go through certain life experiences and certain situations, and you just try to learn as much as you can, and then on the football side of things, the growth has been rapid since I've got to college on just knowledge of football," Vidlak said. "Trying to grow as a quarterback specifically, so I definitely think you learn a lot just life lessons through football as well as trying to get better everyday as a player."

Vidlak's college journey has been winding so far, but he's been prepared for adversity and change.

A lot of that comes from his background as a small-town athlete from Applegate, Oregon, where he grew up competing in football and baseball.

Once he chose football as his passion, Vidlak pursued it fully, and like many in the Treasure State can relate to, he's putting small towns on the map showing no matter where you come from, opportunity will find you.

"It's something I'm definitely really proud of being a small-town kid just because I feel like not as many people make it out of small towns to go and play places, and so I'm definitely proud of where I'm from and it's something that's definitely a part of me, so I'm very thankful for my upbringing and where I'm from," Vidlak said.

"I just love playing quarterback and there's nothing like the camaraderie of a football team, getting to be as close as the quarterback relationship with the offensive line, with your receivers and just the environment that football brings is unlike anything else and especially at a place like this when you get this whole place packed full with a bunch of fans, there's nothing like that so that drew me to football and how intricate of a position quarterback is.

"I've always really liked that and appreciated about it and I feel like, it's something you never perfect but it's always something you can work at so that definitely makes it really enjoyable."

And after leaving Boise State, his journey ultimately brought him to Missoula, the school he originally connected with, and now, is poised to lead.

"I've always actually followed the Griz since I was really young, so definitely knowing that it's a really tough program and it's a place that wins a lot and that has a great fan base and really good players come through here, really good coaches, so I just knew that it was a top-notch place that, at this point, I'm just really thankful to be here and be able to wear Montana on the front of my jersey and play for all the guys out here," Vidlak said.