MISSOULA — For a guy in his early 20's, Adam Botkin has lived a life well-traveled.
And it's only just beginning.
The Frenchtown native joined the Montana Grizzlies as a senior walk-on this summer to get his first crack at college football, a moment turned into reality in the Grizzlies opener against Northwestern State, and a special moment for a player who grew up down the road. So far this season, Botkin has filled in on kickoffs and is 3 for 3 on PATs.
"It's super crazy. Not playing football for four years was definitely interesting and then getting the opportunity to come back was super cool," Botkin said. "Social media was a big part of that and that's a huge part of what I do.
"Running out of the tunnel for the first time definitely was cool, my mom sits on that side, on the north end zone side, front row, so I get to point at her every time I run out the tunnel, so that's pretty cool and then just getting to play with these guys, it's a great group of guys."
And it's been an unorthodox journey to get to this point.
Coming out of Frenchtown High School in 2018, Botkin had an opportunity to play college basketball at Rocky Mountain College, but opted to instead attend UM as a student.
There, he picked up an opportunity to work as a practice player for the Lady Griz, as the program would utilize male players to help give the Lady Griz different looks in practice to help prep them for games.
"It was super fun," Botkin said. "Honestly, it kept me in shape so that was a huge part of it, but at the same time I just wanted to experience some sort of college sport aspect since I was feeling a little empty after the high school sports ended."
Botkin did that for three years while trying to find ways to walk on with the Griz men's basketball team or football, but after his junior year of college he moved to Arizona to work with YouTubers Deestroying and AJ Greene as a content creator, videographer, editor and more, and he did that for a year.
It was there Botkin began to build his own social media following, especially on TikTok, where he has amassed over 80,000 followers and over 4.6 million likes. He also garnered 11.5 million views on Instagram just last month.
"Honestly it was crazy, I got to meet a lot of cool people. Like ended up in Kurt Warner's backyard at one point, but it was a lot of crazy experiences that I wouldn't have got if the social media stuff didn't happen, if the prior walk on stuff had happened," Botkin said. "So I believe everything happens for a reason, so feel like it all led me to where I am right now."
From skits to workouts to inspirational messages and advice to younger players, Botkin always is looking for new ways to come up with content on his platforms.
"We just kind of had this little group where we'd go to the field and make content and that's the beauty of making content in the niche that I'm in, is I'm already on the field, so I'm putting in work and creating content," Botkin explained.
"So there's no difference between my time there, so I'm able to be serious, put in the work and sometimes do the light-hearted TikToks and have some fun with it."
But in April of 2021, just prior to moving to Arizona, Botkin injured his meniscus, a serious knee injury in his kicking leg that sidelined him from working out.
About 10 weeks later, Botkin injured it again in Arizona as the setback was prolonged.
"It gives you a different perspective, coming back from an injury because you get to come back stronger," Botkin said. "Even though it might not seem that way when you're at your lowest, but you come back and be at your highest, which is something that I got to experience and ended up here from it so I'm grateful for it."
But after recovering, Botkin found a way back into working out, and after making a connection with former Griz kicker Kevin Macias, he was able to get in touch with the Griz coaching staff, joined the team, and after his long journey, made his dream of college athletics a reality.
"It's super special to be able to come back and play on the team that I grew up watching," Botkin said. "I grew up 15 minutes away so I was at every game when I was a kid, on the field after every game running around so super special to be able to come back."
And he hopes his story serves as inspiration on the platform he's created.
"There's nothing better than getting a message from a kid that just played on Friday night and you get a message on Saturday morning saying, 'I just played my best game ever, I look up to you, I've seen your content and it pushed me to work a little bit harder that next day,'" Botkin said.
"That, combined with, from the small town, not much recruitment opportunities, so I want to be able to help give back to those kids that don't necessarily have that recruitment opportunity and help them figure it out so they can get to the next level or just pursue what they want in life."