Grizzlies sign 21 in Montana-heavy early signing day for Class of 2019

Montana head coach Bobby Hauck filled his team’s coffers with 20 prep stars and one transfer on the first day of the December early signing period to make a total of 21 new Grizzlies.

The class marks the first to go through a full recruiting cycle since Hauck returned to Montana in December of 2017. With a large percentage of the class giving their verbal commitments well before Wednesday’s signing day, it was apparent to the veteran coach that enthusiasm for Griz football is high – almost too high.

“Recruiting was fun this year, and I really like the guys that signed with us today,” said Hauck. “The reception we received from people around Montana and the Western U.S. was tremendous. In fact, we had to put a stop to offering scholarships and taking commitments around the middle of October because we’re on the verge of being done.”

Hauck and his staff didn’t have to travel far to find his next group of Griz greats. The incoming class of 2019 is bolstered by 11 Montana recruits who will cross the state to further their careers and the majority of the overall group hail from the Pacific Northwest.

“Montana guys have been, and always will be a priority for us. We are the University of Montana, and we want to recruit every Montana kid we think can help us win a championship,” said Hauck. “We’ll go elsewhere for the rest, and the guys that are joining us from outside of our borders are tremendous young men, and we’re excited about them as well.”

While the class of 2019 is deep in numbers, it’s also long on talent with five (six with Dries) of Montana’s prep recruits playing in a state championship game last season.  Receiver Jesse Owens and cornerback Trevin Gradney each won a state AA championship with Billings West, while Ryder Meyer won the state B title with Fairfield. Ryan Tirrell of Loyola and Noah Ambuehl of Great Falls Central also reached title games in their respective divisions.

Not only is the incoming class of ’19 decorated on the field, it is also a strong academic class, with 11 players carrying a 3.0 GPA or above.

“There are a lot of high-GPA, high-test score individuals in this class,” said Hauck. “To be able to recruit that caliber of a student as well as athlete shows the allure of this campus and this football program.”

Positionally, Montana put emphasis on recruiting heft up front on both sides of the ball with four O-Lineman signing and three on the D-line. Leading the class of lineman is UM’s only transfer in Kordell Pillans, a 6-6, 325-pound native of Kodiak, Alaska who spent the past three seasons at junior college powerhouse Mesa Community College in Arizona.

“It’s my belief you go as far as your two fronts take you, and that’s a process. It’s not something that can be answered overnight, but we are building it the right way from the ground up. Soon, if you look at the frames and the size of these people we’ve recruited, you’ll see we have a chance to be a dominant football team in the future,” said Hauck.

The early signing period continues through December 21.

Incoming Griz Football Class of 2019

Name Pos. Ht. Wt. Hometown / Previous Schools
1 Noah Ambuehl TE 6-3 220 Great Falls, Mont. / Great Falls Central Catholic HS
2 Johnny Barthel OL 6-5 260 Bellevue, Wash. / Bellevue HS
3 Dillon Botner OL/ATH 6-6 225 Whitefish, Mont. / Whitefish HS
4 Kris Brown QB 6-4 210 Bozeman, Mont. Bozeman Senior HS
5 Elias Dewaters RB 5-10 185 Missoula, Mont. / Sentinel HS
6 Kale Edwards LB 6-5 210 Coeur d’Alene, Idaho / Coeur d’Alene HS
7 Joey Elwell TE 6-3 230 Meridian, Idaho / Mountain View HS
8 Max Feight S 6-2 180 Whitehall, Mont. / Whitehall HS
9 Trevin Gradney CB 6-0 170 Billings, Mont. / Billings West HS
10 Alex Hurlburt DE 6-3 220 Salem, Ore. / West Salem HS
11 Noah Kaschmitter DL 6-3 225 Grangeville, Idaho / Grangeville HS
12 Jacob McGourin DL 6-5 230 Cheney, Wash. / Cheney HS
13 Ryder Meyer S 5-9 160 Fairfield, Mont. / Fairfield HS
14 Nick Ostmo RB 6-0 215 Portland, Ore. / Lincoln HS
15 Jesse Owens WR 5-9 175 Billings Mont. / Billings West HS
16 Kordell Pillans OL 6-6 325 Kodiak, Alaska / Kodiak HS / Mesa CC
17 Garrison Poetzl DL 6-4 250 Billings, Mont. / Billings Senior HS
18 Dumitru Salagor OL 6-6 250 Vancouver, Wash. / Union HS
19 Ryan Simpson WR 6-6 190 Bozeman, Mont. / Bozeman Senior HS
20 Ryan Tirrell LB 6-2 205 Missoula, Mont. / Loyola Sacred Heart
21 Corbin Walker CB 5-11 170 Renton, Wash. / Hazen Senior HS

State Breakdown

Montana 11
Washington 4
Idaho 3
Oregon 2
Alaska 1
Total 21

Position Breakdown

O-Line 4
D-Line 3
TE 2
S 2
LB 2
CB 2
WR 2
RB 2
QB 1
Total 21


Early Signing Day Bios

1 Noah Ambuehl, TE, 6-3, 220, Great Falls, Mont. / Great Falls Central Catholic HS

2019: Ambuehl will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: A three sport athlete and four-year letterman at Great Falls Central in football, basketball and track … Was football team captain his senior year … Named basketball team MVP twice … Named track team MVP twice and track rookie of the year … 2018 state runner-up in football … 2018 state shot-put champion with a distance of 50′ 8″ … All-Conference in football as a junior and senior … All-State as a senior in football … Three-time All-Conference in basketball … All-State in Basketball as a junior … Two-time All-State in track and field … Threw for 1,257 yards his senior season … Rushed for 433 yards … 29 total touchdowns as a senior … Prep coach was Greg Horton

Personal: Parents are Jon and Ann Ambuehl of Great Falls … Cousins Gabe (football) and Morgan (Track) Sulser are both Grizzly student-athletes … Plays guitar … Plans to major in business finance

2 Johnny Barthel, OL, 6-5, 260, Bellevue, Wash. / Bellevue HS

2019: Barthel will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: A two-year starter … Anchored the line on a Wing-T offense that rushed for 4,196 yards and 52 touchdowns … Went 12-1 his senior season at Bellevue … Named to the 3A King County first team O-Line … Also played on the defensive line, totaling 13 tackles as a senior … Received another offer from Air Force and interest from Boise State, Nevada, Montana State, Wyoming and Eastern Washington … His prep coach was Michael Kneip

Personal: Holds a 3.5 GPA and scored a 25 on the ACT … Parents are Steve and Traci Barthel of Bellevue

3 Dillon Botner, ATH/OL, 6-6, 225, Whitefish, Mont. / Whitefish HS

2019: Botner will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: A four-year letterman at Whitefish … Also earned three letters in basketball and track for the Bulldogs … 2018 Northwestern A second-team all-conference offensive tackle … 2018 Northwester A second-team all-conference defensive end … Also played tight end for the Bulldogs … Helped Whitefish to the State A playoffs … Prep coach was Chad Ross … Named football and basketball team captain … Was part of a state championship team at Whitefish in 2015 …

Personal: Originally from North Dakota … Carries a 3.97 GPA … Plans to attend medical school … Parents are Corey and Michelle Botner of Whitefish … Enjoys skiing, hunting, fishing, hiking and swimming … Family raises kangaroos

4 Kris Brown, QB, 6-4, 210, Bozeman, Mont. / Bozeman Senior HS

2019: Brown will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: 2018 AA first-team all-state quarterback … 2018 Eastern AA first-team all-conference quarterback … 499 rushing yards, 5 rushing touchdowns, 2,843 passing yards and 31 passing touchdowns as a senior … 5,621 career passing yards and 44 career passing touchdowns … 2018 team captain … 2018 team offensive player of the year … Won a conference championship with Bozeman and went 10-1 on the season … Lettered in football

Personal: Parents are Marnie & Kurt Brown of Bozeman … Carries a 3.9 GPA

5 Elias Dewaters, RB, 5-10, 185, Missoula, Mont. / Sentinel HS

2019: Dewaters will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: Three-time letter winner in football … 2018 AA first-team all-state punt returner … 2018 all-state honorable mention running back … 2018 Western AA first-team all-conference punt returner … 2018 Western AA second-team all-conference running back … 2018 Toyota Player of the Week … 913 rushing yards for 9 touchdowns, 339 receiving yards for 3 touchdowns, and 14 tackles as a senior … 2,188 career rushing yards, 388 career carries, and 23 career touchdowns … His prep coach was former Grizzly Dane Oliver

6 Kale Edwards, LB, 6-5, 210, Coeur d’Alene, Idaho / Coeur d’Alene HS

2019: Edwards will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: 2018 5A second-team all-Idaho quarterback … 2,568 passing yards for 22 touch downs and 584 rushing yards for 18 touchdowns as a senior … On defense posted 74 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and 4 interceptions as a senior … According to 247Sports, ranked 2nd in Idaho … Received offers from Montana State, Idaho, Idaho State and Montana State Northern … Prep coach was Shawn Amos … Advanced to the state 5A semifinal as a senior to finish 9-1

Personal: Carries a 3.9 GPA … Parents are Kim and Derek Edwards of Coeur d’Alene

7 Joey Elwell, TE, 6-3, 230, Meridian, Idaho / Mountain View HS

2019: Elwell will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: 2018 5A first-team All-Idaho tight end … Ranked as a two-star prospect by 247 Sports … Also ranked as the No. 6 overall prospect in Idaho by 247 Sports … 48.5 yards receiving per game average and 11 touchdowns as a junior … Received offers from Georgetown, Idaho, Idaho State, Montana State, Northern Arizona, Portland State, Saint Francis, and UC Davis … Also played linebacker …. A first-team 5A South Idaho Conference and second-team 5A All-Idaho selection as a junior … Prep coach was Judd Benedick … Advanced to the state semifinal his senior season

8 Max Feight, S, 6-2, 180, Whitehall, Mont. / Whitehall HS

2019: Feight will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: 2017 all-state quarterback … Threw for 2,866 yards and 32 touchdowns as a junior …. Ran for 614 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior … Led Trojans to the Class B playoffs as  a junior, going undefeated in the regular season … Prep coach was Dan lacey … Missed most of his senior season with injury … Also played basketball and ran track at Whitehall … Ran the 110 hurdles in 15.67 and the 300 hurdles in 15.67 … Received interest from Montana State, Carroll, Montana Tech, Minot State, and Montana Northern

Personal: Carries a 4.0 GPA … Enjoys golfing in his spare time … Intends to major in business … Parents are Larry Feight and Julie Kieckbusch

9 Trevin Gradney, CB, 6-0, 170, Billings, Mont. / Billings West HS

2019: Gradney will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: Three-time letter winner in football, two-time letter winner in track, also earned a letter in wrestling … 2018 AA first-team all-state cornerback … 2018 Eastern AA first-team all-conference cornerback … 2018 team captain … 2018 Montana AA state champs … 9 interceptions, 87 tackles, 24 pass breakups, and 4 forced fumbles as a senior … 2017 second-team all-state cornerback … 2017 first-team all-conference cornerback … Set a PR in the 100 of 11.34 seconds, 22.58 in the 200, and 49.55 in the 400 … Ran on the state champion 1,600m relay … Also played baseball

Personal: Parents are Joe Gradney and Lea Ketterling of Billings … Carries a 3.3 GPA

10 Alex Hurlburt, DE, 6-3, 220, Salem, Ore. / West Salem HS

2019: Hurlburt will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: Rated as a three-star recruit by 247 Sports … Posted 117 tackles, 21.5 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, and 8 pass breakups as a senior … Named 2018 conference Defensive Player of the Year … Named first-team all-conference linebacker … 2017 Greater Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year … 71 tackles, 26 tackles for loss, 15 quarterback hurries and 7 sacks as a junior … Received interest from Oregon, Portland State, Southern Oregon, and Carroll College … Ran a 4.91 40-meter sprint … Also played baseball and basketball

Personal: Carries a 3.81 GPA … Mother is Julie Hurlburt

11 Noah Kaschmitter, DL, 6-3, 225, Grangeville, Idaho / Grangeville HS

2019: Kaschmitter will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: 2018 2A first-team All-Idaho linebacker … 2018 second-team all-Idaho running back … 2018 Warrior Athletic Association Male Athlete of the Year nominee … 2018 CIL defensive line MVP … 2018 CIL Player of the Year … 80 tackles, 9 tackles for loss as a senior … 2017 All-Idaho D-lineman … Part of a 2015 2A state championship team … Also received interest from Idaho

Personal: Enjoys hunting and fishing … Carries a 3.0 GPA

12 Jacob McGourin, DL, 6-5, 230, Cheney, Wash. / Cheney HS

2019: McGourin will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: Three-time letter winner in football … 2018 team captain in football and track … 2018 GNL first-team defensive line … 15 sacks and 6 touchdowns as a senior … Four-time letter winner in track … Two-time first-team all-league and league MVP in track and field … Prep coach was Bobby Byrd … Also received interest from Eastern Washington, Washington State, Boise State, Montana State, Portland State, and Idaho … Clocked at 11.3 in the 100 m sprint … Threw 176 m in discus … Part of two state champion track teams

Personal: Plans to major in education … Parents are Casey and Melissa McGourin

13 Ryder Meyer, S, 5-9, 160, Fairfield, Mont. / Fairfield HS

2019: Meyer will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: Four-time letter winner at Fairfield High school … 2018 and 2017 Northern B all-state selection … 2018 all-conference first-team defensive back … 2018 all-conference first-team quarterback … 2018 Football Dynamic Playmaker of the Year … 2018 Montana State B championship winner … 112 tackles, 3 interceptions, 1,480 passing yards, 30 passing touchdowns, 1,045 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns as a senior … Career record of 44-2 over 4 years … US Army Pro Football Award for Excellence Finalist … Two-year team captain … Three-time letter winner in basketball and four-time letter winner in track … 2017-18 basketball defensive MVP

Personal: Parents are Les and Jolyn Meyer … Father Les is the head coach at Fairfield HS … Brother Tucker Meyer is a defensive coach at Rocky Mountain College … Carries a 3.85 GPA … Plans to pursue a degree in exercise science

14 Nick Ostmo, RB, 6-0, 215, Portland, Ore. / Lincoln HS

2019: Ostmo will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: 110 carries for 1,335 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior … 78 tackles, 8 tackles for loss, and 1 sack as a senior … Received offers from Air Force and Army, saw interest from Eastern Washington, Columbia, Bucknell, UC Davis, Navy, Penn and Tufts …  2017 first-team all-conference running back … Two-time all-conference baseball player … Clocked a 4.7 40 time  … Also played linebacker

Personal: Parents are Erik and Susan Ostmo of Portland … Brother Nathan plays baseball at Dartmouth, and other brother Nolan plays football at Tufts … Carries a 3.6 GPA

15 Jesse Owens, WR, 5-9, 175, Billings, Mont. / Billings West HS

2019: Owens will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: 2018 all-state first-team wide receiver … 2018 all-state first-team cornerback … 2018 all-state honorable mention punt returner … 2018 Class AA co-offensive MVP … 2018 Eastern AA all-conference first-team wide receiver … 2018 Eastern AA all-conference first-team cornerback … 2018 Eastern AA all-conference first-team punt returner … 71 receptions for 1,126 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior … 2017 all-state basketball player

Personal: Carries a 3.44 GPA

16 Kordell Pillans, OL, 6-6, 325, Kodiak, Alaska / Kodiak HS / Mesa CC

2019: Pillans will enroll at UM in time for spring drills and will have two years of eligibility

2018: A two-star prospect at Mesa … Played in 6 games in his final season as a Thunderbird … Earned second-team all-region honors … Did not allow a sack as an offensive lineman … Received offers from Youngstown State, Missouri State, and Albany … Anchored an offense that threw for 1,822 yards and ran for 1,901 yards

2016-17: Played at Mesa Community College … Received a medical redshirt his sophomore year

High School: 2015 first-team All-USA Alaska offensive lineman … NLC first-team offensive and defensive lineman … 2016 ASAA State champion in shot-put (55′ 7.25) and discus (162′)

17 Garrison Poetzl, DL, 6-4, 250, Billings, Mont. / Billings Senior HS

2019: Poetzl will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: Four-time letter winner at Billings Senior High School … 2018 all-state second-team defensive line selection … 2018 all-state honorable mention offensive tackle … 2018 Eastern AA all-conference first-team defensive line selection … 2018 Eastern AA all-conference second-team offensive tackle selection … 2016 AA state championship winner … Prep coach was Chris Murdock

Personal: Enjoys fly fishing

18 Dumitru Salagor, OL, 6-6, 250, Vancouver, Wash. / Union HS

2019: Will enroll as a true freshman in the fall of 2019

High School: 2018 All-Region offensive lineman … 9 total tackles as a senior on the defensive line … 2017 first-team all-GSHL member …  Won second place in the 220lb weight class in 4A GSHL District Championship

Personal: Born in Moldova and moved to Vancouver in 2016

19 Ryan Simpson, WR, 6-6, 190, Bozeman, Mont. / Bozeman Senior HS

2019: Simpson will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: Three-time letter winner in football … 2018 all-state first-team wide receiver … 2018 honorable mention all-state cornerback … 2018 Eastern AA all-conference first-team wide receiver … 2018 all-conference second-team cornerback … 65 receptions for 922 yards with 12 touchdowns and 4 interceptions as a senior … 2018 conference champs … Letter winner in basketball … Received an offer from Montana State to play football and MSU-Billings to play basketball

Personal: Plans to major in business … Parents are Carol & Randy Simpson

20 Ryan Tirrell, LB, 6-2, 205, Missoula, Mont. / Loyola Sacred Heart

2019: Tirrell will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: Four-time letter winner in football and track … 2018 western B conference first-team all-state offense and defense selection … 176 carries, 1,251 rushing yards, and 25 rushing touchdowns as a senior … 61 tackles, 2 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 1 fumble recovery as a senior … 2018 conference champs … 2017 first-team all-conference running back … 2017 all-state outside linebacker … 2017 defense MVP … Three-time letter winner in basketball … Third place in the long jump at the state competition

Personal: Parents are Katie & Jason Tirrell … Nephew to Coach Bobby Hauck and cousin to fellow Grizzly Robby Hauck

21 Corbin Walker, CB, 5-11, 170, Renton, Wash. / Hazen Senior HS

2019: Walker will enroll at UM in the fall of 2019 as a true freshman

High School: A Four-time letter winner in football … 2 time 1st-team NPSL all-league wide receiver and defensive back … 2018 NPSL offensive player of the year … 2018 News Tribune all-area 2nd-team wide receiver … 74 receptions, 1,155 yards, 34 tackles and 10 touchdowns in 10 games as a senior …  2017 all-NPSL Cascade division first-team player … 2017 division’s all-purpose player of the year … Two-time letter winner in basketball and track …Received offers from the Air Force, Montana State, Northern Colorado, Northern Iowa, Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona

Personal: Plans to major in Finance … Parents are mother and step-father Kathleen and Jeremy Luiten and father Vernon Walker