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Big Sky's Tyler Flink (32) scores the Eagles' first touchdown in an eventual 44-40 crosstown win against Missoula Sentinel on Sept. 1, 2017.

MISSOULA — Before Bobby Hauck's return to the University of Montana, zero Missoula Big Sky Eagles were in UM's recruiting class of 2018. 

Now there are two. 

One of Hauck's first orders of business as head coach was to offer all-state quarterback and Western AA MVP Levi Janacaro a scholarship. 

Tyler Flink, Janacaro's varsity co-captain, is now headed to Montana as well, as the Grizzlies offered him a preferred walk-on spot after UM's spring ball slate concluded.

And being able to play alongside Janacaro for another four to five years is an added bonus.

"We're best friends. We've been best friends for a while," Flink told 406mtsports.com on Friday afternoon. "It's nice to have someone you're pretty close with going there."

Janacaro echoed that sentiment.

"I'm elated. Flink is my best friend," Janacaro said. "We talked about him trying to walk on for a couple months now. Now that he's actually going to join me, it's awesome. It's amazing."

Flink — a 5-foot-11, 210-pound linebacker/fullback combo — originally committed to play football for Montana Tech before UM's walk-on offer came along. 

Just three years ago, Flink wasn't as formidable as he is now. As a freshman, Flink stood roughly 5-foot-2 and weighed about 130 pounds. 

"I had no idea what was going to happen. I didn't know how tall I was going to be, if I was going to be big, small or what," Flink said. "I had no idea. I was tiny. I've changed a lot. It's a lot of weight and a lot of height."

Flink broke a couple Big Sky records on defense this season, including tackles in a season (80) and career tackles (192). And his 15 single-game tackles against Hellgate tied the school record as well.

"To me, that's a lot about heart and effort," Big Sky's football coach Matt Johnson said of Flink's school records. "Obviously you have to have some talent and skill also but he's a type of kid that's all over the field. Multiple coaches would say, 'Man that 32, he's all over the place.' That's a compliment. We take it as a compliment that we have our kids going the right direction that they buy in and believe and he was somebody that went hard all the time."

That defensive prowess earned him a Class AA all-state second-team nod at inside linebacker. He also earned all-state honorable mention honors at fullback. Flink was tabbed to the all-state honorable mention squad as a middle linebacker his junior season too. 

Flink earned the Eagles' defensive MVP award and the hard hat/wooden head award — going to a tough, hard-hitting player. 

That toughness resonates. 

"Flink is the toughest kid I've ever met," Janacaro said. "Sophomore year against Flathead, he broke like three fingers on his right hand in the second game of the season and played the rest of the season. Didn't tell the coaches. Wednesday of Week One this year, he pulled his groin in practice. Played through it. Then in our playoff game, he played through a broken hip. That just shows the kind of kid that Flink is. He's a competitor."

Even though Flink played both ways in high school, he said Montana wants him to suit up at linebacker. 

"It means a bunch," Flink said of the opportunity to play for Montana. "I've grown up watching them. We've had season tickets every year. I've always wanted to be a Griz. Obviously when that happened, it was definitely unreal. It's still unreal that it's happening. I'm super excited about it."

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Amie Just covers Griz football and Missoula-area preps. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

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