MISSOULA — Carson Rostad didn’t have to look too far away to find his home for the future.
The Hamilton quarterback has been a Montana football fan as long as he can remember. He attended home games with his family starting at 7 years old, making the 60-minute trek down the Bitterroot Valley on Saturdays and sitting in the stands on the 50-yard line before moving into box seats.
Now preparing for his senior year, Rostad vaguely recalls the latter part of the Bobby Hauck era that ended in 2009. He more so remembers watching Jordan Tripp, his cousin on his mom’s side, star at Washington-Grizzly Stadium in the years afterward.
So when Montana offered Rostad a scholarship, it was going to take something extraordinary to keep him away. He liked what he heard and saw, and he started the process of making his second home his new home when he became Montana’s first commit in the Class of 2020 on Friday night.
“It feels really good,” said Rostad, the first Hamilton player to join the Griz since Ryan Wells from 2002-06. “You feel like you have a home for the next four years. I’ve always been a Griz fan. My family has season tickets for as long as I could remember. I’ve really gotten to like the stadium and the town of Missoula. I loved the coaches. So, it just felt right.”
Rostad will come to Montana as a highly touted recruit who will be a four-year starter for Class A Hamilton. He was named the Montana Gatorade Football Player of the Year as a junior, becoming the first non-AA player to win it since 2007 and the first non-senior to win since 2014.
At 6-foot-2 and 210 pounds, Rostad has shown the ability to be a dual-threat quarterback while playing for Hamilton coach Bryce Carver. He threw for 5,873 yards over the past two seasons, according to MaxPreps.com, and showed his mobility by rushing for 901 yards in largely designed runs and some scrambles.
In piling up those stats and providing the requisite leadership, Rostad helped guide Hamilton to a pair of state runner-up finishes the past two seasons.
“I think he’s going to fit in good at Montana just because he’s very coachable,” said Carver, a former Griz wide receiver from 2009-12. “He has a competitive nature, and he’s going to be very loyal to that program. He just wants to compete and go out and do anything he can to help the team win. The past three years, you see it in his ability to be a leader on the team and to hate losing and to compete to win.”
Rostad showcased his decision making as a passer by tossing 82 touchdowns the past two years while getting picked off just 13 times. This season, he’ll be working on improving his arm strength and his accuracy, which was 61.4% percent over the past two seasons.
Rostad put up those numbers that while playing in Carver’s offensive system, which is similar to what Hauck runs at Montana, another selling point for him. So when Rostad was sitting in the stands watching Griz games, he was a player-in-training as much as a fan, recognizing how a play unfolded and how to respond while also noting how the college players are quicker and schemes are more complex than high school.
“I love how they’re fast paced and want to score as much as they possibly can, because scoring is the best thing,” Rostad said.
Carver didn’t want to compare Rostad and his potential to former Griz quarterbacks but talked himself into Cole Bergquist and Andrew Selle.
“They’re big guys that can throw the ball and can scramble and get some yards, too,” Carver said. “He’s got the speed and can continue to work to get better and faster.”
Rostad, who boasts a 4.0 grade-point average, will come to Montana on a full-ride scholarship. He chose the Griz over an offer from Montana State.
Montana offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Timm Rosenbach was the first to reach out to Rostad. Recruiting coordinator Justin Green later joined in, and Hauck eventually spoke with Rostad before the Griz offered him in November.
“Once they hired Hauck back, I’ve always thought he’s an amazing coach,” Rostad said. “Getting to know Rosenbach and all them, that just made it a really easy decision to say yes.”
“They’re just really easy to talk to. I got a lot of joy talking to them. They’re smart. They made me definitely feel wanted and make you feel like you’re going to win with them.”
Rostad had offers to attend summer camps with Pac-12 teams Stanford and Oregon State, but he passed on them as well as some invites from other FCS schools.
He can sign as early as December and sounded locked in with the Griz.
“I’m pretty set on them,” Rostad said. “I don’t see anything really changing my mind.”