Griz name football captains

MISSOULA — The University of Montana football team voted for  their captains for the 2013 season, and head coach Mike Delaney told the rest of the team today in a team meeting who those players are.

Linebackers Brock Coyle and Jordan Tripp were selected as the Grizzlies’ captains on defense, while quarterback Jordan Johnson and tackle Danny Kistler Jr. will serve that role for the offense.  (A special teams captain will be selected prior to each game this season).

Delaney announced those four captains to the rest of his players at a team meeting earlier today, which was held prior to the Grizzlies’ final spring scrimmage this evening.

A 6-2, 245-pound senior from Bozeman, Coyle had a team-high 107 tackles last season, and started in nine of 11 games.  He was an honorable mention All-Big Sky Conference selection.  He’s played in 40 career games.  Coyle was selected as UM’s hardest hitter a year ago, receiving the Golden Helmet Award.   He was ranked 28th (tie) in the nation in the FCS, averaging 9.73 tackles a game.

“Brock is one of those guys who is an out-front leader,” Delaney said.  “He’s not afraid to stick his nose in things, and he’s not afraid to say things in a respectful way if he thinks something is wrong, either to his teammates or to myself as far as that goes.

“He was one of the players who sent the letter (which stated UM’s football team will continue to strive and do its best to represent themselves and the university in the best way possible, despite some adverse incidents that had taken place within the program) out last year to Griz Nation, which was very well thought out and represented the feelings of his teammates,” Delaney said.  “He’s a bright young man who has a great future.”

A three-year starter, Tripp is a 6-3 ½, 240-pound senior linebacker from Missoula.  Last season he was a first team all-league selection, and chosen second team All-America by The Sports Network and first team by Phil Steele Magazine.  He started all 11 games (he’s played in 39 career games) a year ago and was the team’s second leading tackler with 95 stops, and had a team-high 13.5 tackles for loss.  Tripp was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award. Tripp was also UM’s team captain on defense last season.

“Jordy is a guy whose grandpa (Gene) and dad (Bryan) played here, and he’s been a Griz since the day he was born,” Delaney said.  “I remember in my first year here and he was a senior competing in our camp, and we had decided to offer him a scholarship, and he said ‘this is what I’ve been waiting for my whole life,’ and he’s just charged forward from that point of time.

“He and Brock came here four years ago as good high school athletes, both around 205, 210 pounds, and they’re both in that 240-250 range right now, and they probably run better now than they did then,” Delaney said.  “Just when you look at how much football they’ve played and how much they’ve done – it’s a bunch.

“Jordy has already won several significant awards, and he gets a lot done and leads by example, but what he does on and off the field.,” Delaney said.  “He’s also a guy who is not afraid to stick his nose in there and speak up for something he believes in.  Our players respect him and will listen to him.”

Kistler, also a three-year starter, is a 6-8, 315-pound senior tackle from Seattle, Wash.  He started all 11 games (he’s started in 25 games in a row) last season and was named first team All-Big Sky.  Last season he was  the co-recipient of the Paul Weskamp Award (with senior guard Jake Hendrickson), which is given to Montana’s outstanding offensive linemen.

“Danny’s really taken over the reigns of the offense,” Delaney said.  “He’s the guy on offense who the coaches and players turned to as a guy who they have tremendous respect for.  When you put guys up for preseason accolades, as we did with Danny a year ago, it always seems like the cream rises to the top.

“This is entirely a vote by the players, and they vote for the guys who they trust, who they respect, and who they know are really hard workers, and Danny and the other three guys fit that bill,” Delaney said.  “When you see guys get 75% to 80% of the votes of the entire football team, as all four of these guys did it’s easy to see what their teammates think about them as people and as players.”

A 6-1, 195-pound junior from Eugene, Ore., Johnson passed for 2,400 yards and 21 touchdowns, and was an honorable mention All-Big Sky selection two seasons ago in 2011 as UM’s starting quarterback  That season he tied a Montana single-game record with six touchdown passes in a 45-10 victory over Weber State.  His 21 touchdown passes rank him 12th (tie) in single-season history, while his 2,400 passing yards were the 21st most in a season.

“It’s just kind of a refreshing thing to see how much respect this team has for Jordan Johnson,” Delaney said.  “With the difficulties he’s gone through the last year, they’ve supported him and hung in there with him, and he’s hung in there with them even though he wasn’t able to hang around our them or our program.

“I think he’s a great leader,” Delaney continued.  “He’s kind of a quiet leader in some respects, but still strong enough to get guys to perform and do the things they are supposed to do, and get them to do those things to the best of their abilities.  That’s one of the signs of a leader.  I think all four of our guys have that quality.”

“I am just tremendously excited about all four of these guys,” Delaney said.  “And on top of that, we had another seven or eight players who had at least 10 or so votes, which really speaks highly of the entire group of guys on our football team.”

— UM Sports Information