MISSOULA — Montana’s roster has undergone some changes since the conclusion of the spring season.
The Griz officially added four transfers, including a trio of FBS dropdowns, in time for preseason camp, which started Monday. The three former FBS players are freshman running back Isiah Childs from Akron, junior defensive end DeAri Todd from Michigan State and sophomore offensive lineman Hunter Mayginnes from Washington State.
Hauck’s biggest considerations when bringing in transfers is if they have good film and they’re good people. He feels a transfer’s ability to contribute right away is based on their experience and the depth already at the position.
All three are eligible to play this year because of the NCAA’s recent one-time transfer rule.
“If they’re freshman, hopefully they aren’t going to contribute much, just like our freshmen, or else we need to recruit better,” Hauck said. “If they’re an older guy, it’s no different than junior college. Any transfer of any sort, you bring in because you hope they can contribute. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.”
Childs has been the third-string running back behind Nick Ostmo and Xavier Harris in camp. He stands at 6-foot-1, 205 pounds and is coming off a redshirt season last year in his first college season. UM is without injured All-American running back Marcus Knight.
“He’s got good film, high school and college,” Hauck said. “He’s really athletic. He wanted to play running back, did not want to play defense, so that’s why he’s here as far as the transfer part. But he’s got good film.”
Mayginnes is a 6-5, 330-pounder who has lined up at right guard on the second team, backing up senior Moses Mallory. In three college seasons, he’s played in 16 games, all on special teams.
“Hunter, he’s a great guy,” Hauck said. “I think he fits well with our players — mentality, personality, all those things, outlook on life, he kind of fits in. But at that position, they’re hard to find. You need as many as you can get that are good players."
Todd, at 6-2, 272 pounds, has played right defensive end on the second and third teams. He hasn’t played any snaps the past four college seasons, but Hauck saw some potential to want to bring him in.
“He’s big. He’s got good athletic ability. And he’s a good kid,” he said.
UM also made the offseason addition of freshman linebacker Josh McCurty from Southwestern Community College. He’s appeared to be with the third or fourth teamers.
Other transfers who’ve come in between the conclusion of the 2019 season and the start of spring 2021 are senior cornerback Omar Hicks Onu from Oregon State, sophomore cornerback TraJon Cotton from Oregon State and sophomore center AJ Forbes from Nebraska.
Opposite the additions, there have been some departures since the spring as 12 players have left the team. Tight end Bryson Deming and defensive end Braydon Deming, who both started at UM, are now at Illinois State as grad transfers studying biomechanics. Tight end Trase Le Texier landed at Idaho, where head coach Paul Petrino is his future father-in-law; Le Texier is engaged to ex-Griz softball player Anne Mari Petrino.
Other scholarship players who left are quarterback Kirk Rygol, who was at his fourth school in four years, 3-star freshman safety Rishi Daniels and freshman safety Max Feight, who had entered college coming off ACL surgery.
Walk-ons who departed are junior kicker Jack Cooper, junior wide receiver Max Gardiner, sophomore safety Jace Schneider, freshman wide receiver Guido Ossello (the grandson of former UM coach Mick Delaney), freshman cornerback Ryan Ressler and freshman running back Kevin Armstead.
Some players may look new, but that’s because they changed their jersey number. Linebacker Jace Lewis went from 34 to the 37 legacy jersey. Hicks Onu is the first player in UM history to wear 0, a number which the NCAA allowed players to wear starting in 2020; he wore 7 in the spring after transferring from Oregon State.
Carson Rostad switched from quarterback to linebacker and changed from No. 3 to 33. Punter Brian Buschini went from 95 to 29. Linebacker Asher Croy was 33 and is now 34. Payton Brammer is now 89 after being 42. Tanner Huff and Brady Lang are both listed as safeties wearing No. 20, but they’ve been practicing at wide receiver, with Huff wearing 23 and Lang sticking with 20.
True freshmen added to the roster are quarterback Daniel Britt; running back Colter Janacaro; wide receivers Nick Williams, Junior Bergen, TJ Rausch, Tanner Huff and Brady Lang; tight end Jake Olson; offensive linemen Bo Kinney, Declan McCabe and Liam Brown; defensive linemen Kellen Detrick, Zac Evans, Sloan McPherson and Dylan Smith; defensive end Corby Mann; linebackers Geno Leonard and Soren Syvrud; cornerback Dylan Simmons; safeties Jace Klucewich and Padraig Lang; and kicker Camden Capser.
Bergen had originally signed with MSU and flipped to UM.
True freshman signees not yet listed on the roster are defensive end Ben McGourin, offensive lineman Ethan Barney and quarterback Quinn Lamers.
Day 3 observations
Montana continued to get its tight ends involved in the passing game. Freshmen Cole Grossman and Peyton Brammer caught passes in 11-vs-11 play.
“It’s one of our younger groups, but they’ve got ability,” Hauck said. “I think from Cole, as you mentioned, through that group, we’ve got more ability athletically than we’ve had by a large margin. So, we’re hoping that shows up, and then the physical maturity has got to come.”
Grossman, who stands at 6-4, 220, still has four years of eligibility left after redshirting in 2018, grayshirting in 2019 and getting the free COVID year last season. He’s been a regular target each of the three days of camp.
“We’ve been in no pads for two days, but Cole’s done a good job,” Hauck said before Wednesday’s practice, the first day in full pads. “He’s a hard worker. He’s a good athlete, and he’s done some good things. Today’s his day. We got pads on.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Kris Brown appeared to get fewer reps than the past two days in 11-vs-11 play. He did get to play with and against the first teamers in the red zone during the final 11-vs-11 period, completing two short throws, handing off the ball once and overthrowing a wide receiver in the end zone on a corner route.
Senior Cam Humphrey seemed to improve his accuracy from previous days. Perhaps his highlight throw was a deep pass to Sammy Akem, guarded tight by Hicks Onu, on a fly route for about a 60-yard touchdown. He also connected on a corner route to Gabe Sulser in between two defenders for a gain of at least 30 yards.
Hicks Onu and sophomore cornerback Corbin Walker have continued to provide some tight coverage on the first-team wide receivers.
Senior defensive end Joe Babros seemed to create some occasional pressure off the right side, including one rush that led to a poor throw that was nearly picked off by linebacker Marcus Welnel.
True freshman Camden Capser made all three of his field goals from about 30-40 yards out. Carver Gilman made one, missed one and had one blocked as Alex Gubner appeared to get a hand on the ball.
Sophomore Tyler Ganoung got first-team reps at left guard, where Kordell Pillans had been the past two days. Pillans was on the second team.