MISSOULA — First year head football coach Bob Stitt’s University of Montana Grizzly football team begins preparation for the 2015 season, with spring drills starting on Monday.
The Grizzlies’ spring drills go from March 9-26, and April 6-11, with a week off in between for spring break (March 28-April 5).
Montana will have two scrimmages, and a spring game will conclude spring drills. The two scrimmages will be held in Washington-Grizzly Stadium on Saturday, March 21 (in the afternoon) and on Thursday, March 26 (in the evening). Montana’s spring game will be held in conjunction with Carroll College, and that will be on Saturday, April 11, and starts at 1:00 p.m. at the Saints’ Nelson Field.
The Grizzles return 15 starters (two offensive players are starters from the 2013 season) from a team that went 9-5 overall and 6-2 (tie, second) in the Big Sky Conference, and advanced to the NCAA FCS playoffs for the second straight season.
With its nine victories last season, Montana has won eight or more games 19 of the last 21 seasons. The Grizzlies’ win at Southern Utah last year gave them their 27th winning season in the past 28 years.
Last season Montana extended its record number of appearances in the Division I-AA/FCS playoffs to 22. The Griz defeated visiting San Diego 52-14 in a first-round playoff game, and then lost 37-20 to host Eastern Washington in the second round.
A year ago the Griz were ranked second in the nation in turnovers lost (11); third in turnover margin (+1.0 per game); fifth in fumbles lost (4); seventh in team sacks (3.29 pg); eighth in passes had intercepted (7).
The Grizzlies led the division in average attendance, with 23,777 in seven home games. James Madison finished second, averaging 19,816 in six home games. Montana has averaged more than 22,000 fans a game in the last 12 seasons in a row (starting in 2003).
2015 RETURNING STARTERS (16)
WR: Ellis Henderson, 6-0, 185, RS/Jr., 2V (13 starts in 2013)
WR: Jamaal Jones, 6-1, 1880, Sr., 2V (14 starts)
LT: John Schmaing, 6-7, 291, Jr., 2V (13 starts in 2013)
LT: David Reese, 6-7, 270, So., 1V (9 starts)
RG: Ben Weyer, 6-4, 270, Jr., 2V (13 starts)
RT: Devon Dietrich, 6-4, 270, Jr., 1V (14 starts)
*WR: Josh Janssen, 6-0, 195, So, 1V (8 starts)
*WR: Ryan Burke, 6-4, 190, Jr., 1V (7 starts)
DE: Tyrone Holmes, 6-4, 245, Sr., 3V (14 starts)
CB: Nate Harris, 5-10, 180, Sr., 3V (14 starts)
SS: Justin Whitted, 6-1, 195, Sr., 3V (13 starts)
LB: Herbert Gamboa, 6-1, 220, Sr., 3V (14 starts)
LB: Jeremiah Kose, 6-2, 230, Sr., 1V (14 starts)
LB: Kendrick Van Ackeren, 6-1, 6-1, 220, Sr., 2V
SPECIAL TEAMS (2)
K: Daniel Sullivan, 5-10, 185, Sr., 1V (9 starts)
P/K: Chris Lider, 6-1, 199, Sr., 3V (10 starts)
*K: Harrison Greenberg, 5-8, 170, Jr., SQ (5 starts)
*P: Stephen Shaw, 6-3, 260, Jr., 2V (13 starts in 2013)
RETURNING PLAYERS WHO STARTED AT LEAST ONE GAME IN 2014: RB: John Nguyen, 5-7, 188, Jr., 2V (1 start); OT: Jackson Thiebes, 6-5, 280, Jr., SQ (3 starts); OG: McCauley Todd, 6-7, 200, Jr., 1V (1 start); TE: Mike Ralston, 6-5, 245, So., 1V (3 starts); DT: Zach Peevey, 6-2 ½, 255, Jr., 2V (1 start); SS: Jake Dallaserra, 5-11, 190, Sr., 2V (1 start).
RETURNING ALL-BIG SKY CONFERENCE PLAYERS (10): 2ND TEAM: Jamaal Jones, WR; Kendrick Van Ackeren, LB. 3rd TEAM: Jeremiah Kose, LB. HONORABLE MENTION: Hebert Gamboa, LB; Nate Harris, CB; Tyrone Holmes, DE; John Nguyen RB; Dan Sullivan, K, Justin Whitted, FS, Jamal Wilson, FB.
2015 RETURNING LETTERMEN (49/26 defense, 18 offense, 5 special teams): Nate Bradley, So., DT; Ryan Burke, Jr., WR; (2013); RB, Joey Counts, Jr. RB/FB; Derek Crittenden, Sr., DE; Jake Dallaserra, Sr., FS; Devon Dietrich, Jr., OG; Herbert Gamboa, Sr., LB; Tyrel Garner, Jr., CB; Harrison Greenberg, Jr., K; (2013) Brady Gustafson, Jr., QB; Nate Harris, Sr., CB; Aaron Held, Jr., Snaps; Josh Horner, So., TE; Eric Johnson, Sr., SS; Ryan Johnson, Jr., DE; (2013 Ellis Henderson, RS/Jr., WR/KOR; Tyrone Holmes, Sr., DE; Josh Janssen, So., WR; Jamaal Jones, Sr., WR; (2013) Max Kelly, Jr., OT; (2013) Caleb Kidder, Jr., DT; Jeremiah Kose, Sr., LB; Clint LaRowe, Jr., OT; Connor Lebsock, Sr., LB; Chris Lider, Sr., P/K; Lorenzo Logwood, So., RB; Robert Luke, So., OC; (2013) Chase Naccarato, Jr., WR; JR Nelson, Jr., CB; John Nguyen, Jr., RB; Addison Owen, Sr., LB; Zach Peevey, Jr., DE; Mike Ralston, So., TE; David Reese, So., OT; (2013) John Schmaing, Jr., OT; Tucker Schye, So., LB; (2013) Stephen Shaw, Sr., P; Cooper Sprunk, So., OT; Connor Strahm, So., LB; Daniel Sullivan, Sr., K; McCauley Todd, Jr., OG; Kendrick Van Ackeren, Sr., LB; Ben Weyer, Jr., OG; Justin Whitted, Sr., FS; Jamal Wilson, Sr., FB (DT).
2014 LETTERMEN LOST (15: 10 defense, 5 offense): Jamaal Anderson, SS; Kevin Berland, WR; Jordan Canada, RB; Joshua Dennard, CB; Sean Haynes, WR; Matt Hermanson, FS; Jordan Hines, OG; Logan Hines, OC; Jordan Johnson, QB; Shay Smithwick-Hann, QB; Trevor Rehm, DT; Mitch Saylor, WR; Tonga Takai, DT; Travon Van, RB/WR; Zack Wagenmann, DE.
2015 RETURNING REDSHIRTS (25: 10 offense, 15 defense): Roscoe Alley, Fr., OG; Josh Buss, Fr., LB; Reese Carlson, Fr., WR; Austin Chadderdon, Fr., DE; Tristen Clark, Fr., WR; Shayne Cochran, Fr., LB; Ben D’Alton, Fr., DT; Kyle Davis, Fr., DT; Evan Defer, Fr., DE; Even Epperly, Fr., Safety; Sean Foley, Fr., WR; Ellis Henderson, Jr., WR/KOR; Zach Hollenbeck, Fr., WR; Carl Johnson, Fr., RB; Riley Kack, Fr., DE; Caleb Kidder, Jr., DT; Caleb Lyons, Fr., WR; Nick Mertes, Fr., DE; Chase Naccarato, Jr., WR; Manu Rasmussen, Fr., SS; Tyler Richtmyer, Fr., LB; Alex Thomas, Fr., LB; Reggie Tilleman, Fr., DE; Nick Webster, Fr., LB; Will Weyer, Fr., QB.
2015 SQUAD MEMBERS BACK (14: 8 defense, 6 offense): Austin Carver, So., WR; Jared Clark, Jr., OT; Mick Delaney, So. FS; Treshawn Favors, So., RB; Nico Graham, So., WR; Bo Harris, Jr., DT; Ryan McKinney, So., CB; Shane Moody, So., CB; Chris Parker, CB; Marq Rogers, So., WR; Cameron Rokich, So., OT; Jackson Thiebes, Jr., OT; Makena Simis, So., QB; Zach Vis, So., LB.
2015 TRANSFERS (4): Chad Chalich, Jr., QB (U of Idaho); Eric Prater, Fr., QB (U of Hawaii); Markell Sanders, So., CB (Washington State); Colter Trent, S., QB (Southern Utah).
2015 JC TRANSFERS (1): Connor McGuire, WR, So. (Snow College).
INCOMING FRESHMEN (19): Colin Bingham, TE, Big Sky HS (Misssoula, Mont.); Jeremy Calhoun, RB, Long Beach Poly HS (Calif.); Justin Calhoun, WR, Long Beach Poly HS (Calif.); Dalton Daum, WR, (Butte HS (Mont); Koby Eaton, WR, Evergreen HS (Vancouver, Wash.); Siaumau Ena, DT, Vista HS (Calif.); Andrew Harris, DE, Glacier HS (Kalispell, Mont.); Dallas Hart, OL, Pacific HS (Cypress, Calif.); Jackson McCullough, OL, Cathedral Catholic HS (San Diego, Calif.); Cody Meyer, OL, San Marcos HS (Calif.); Dane Olson, LB, Cascade Christian HS (Medford, Ore.); **Willy Pflug, QB, Sunset HS (Portland, Ore.); Donovan Rooks, WR, Yuma Catholic HS (Ariz.); Holden Ryan, WR, Central Catholic HS (Billings, Mont.); Joshua Sandry, Safety, Bigfork HS (Mont.); Jesse Sims, DE, Corvallis HS (Stevensville, Mont.); Cy Sirmon, LB, Wenatchee HS (Wash.); Angel Villanueva, OL, Duarte HS (Calif.); Jerrin Williams, Safety, Evergreen HS (Vancouver, Wash.). **=Currently enrolled at UM
2015 RETURNING AWARD WINNERS: Golden Helmet Award (Hardest Hitter): Jeremiah Kose, LB & Jamal Wilson, FB. Hauck Family Award (Special Teams Player of the Year): Daniel Sullivan, K. Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Reese Carlson, WR. Defensive Scout Team Player of the Year: Evan Epperly, safety.
SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE (March 9-26 & APRIL 6-11)
Monday, March 9: Practice # 1, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 11, Practice #2, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Friday, March 13, Practice #3, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 14, Practice #4, 10:00 am- 12:00 p.m.
Monday, March 16, Practice #5, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 18-Practice #6, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Friday, March 20, Practice #7, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Saturday, March 21, Practice #8, SCRIMMAGE #1: 12:30-1:30 p.m.
Monday, March 23, Practice #9, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 25-Practice #10, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Thursday, March 26, Practice #11, SCRIMMAGE #2: 6:00-8:00 p.m.
MARCH 28-APRIL 5: SPRING BREAK
Monday, April 6, Practice #12, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 8-Practice #13, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Friday, April 10, Practice #14, 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Saturday, April 11, SPRING GAME IN HELENA, 1:00 P.M.
— Montana Sports Information