MISSOULA — It's not often an offensive lineman gets one of the top individual honors a high school an athlete can get.
Missoula Sentinel offensive lineman Dylan Rollins was named the 2020-21 Montana Gatorade Football Player of the Year on Thursday morning, per a press release.
Rollins is the first from Sentinel to ever win the award and is the first offensive lineman to take the honor in a decade — the last was then-Helena standout Caleb Kidder in 2011. Going back a bit further, since 2000, Rollins is just the fourth offensive lineman to win the honor.
Usually offensive lineman are the unsung heroes of the team. Star running backs and quarterbacks are quick to praise their O-lines, who do the dirty work inside to keep a quarterback on their feet or make room for their tailback to find a lane.
“As an offensive lineman, you aren’t in the spotlight a lot — almost never — and you don’t really expect it,” Rollins said Thursday during a phone interview. “That’s just kinda getting used to the position, accepting and understanding your role is really important but it’s not a glorious one. … Getting that recognition is awesome to see but amidst all the talent in the state, that an offensive lineman was chosen, it’s a huge honor it was me.”
The other two are former Drummond center Alex Verlanic in 2005-06 and Billings Central Catholic two-way lineman Casey McMillan in 2007-08.
“Well I think it’s about time the big boys got some love,” Sentinel head coach Dane Oliver said during a phone interview Thursday. “We all know that those guys aren’t generally the ones that get the recognition but when you have a successful year like we did it all starts up front. It was great to see Dylan get recognized.”
Getting the honor was just the “icing on the cake” for Rollins, who said getting to BYU and getting the chance at the FBS level is where he belongs.
Rollins, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound, two-way lineman, who primarily played in the offensive trenches, committed and signed to play for BYU over a plethora of other offers from the FCS to the FBS. He helped lead the Spartans to their first Class AA state title game in 48 years this past season.
He became the highest rated recruit out of Montana in six years, which led to his surge and eventual commitment to BYU.
He became a leader for the best Sentinel team in years. He anchored the interior line but, most importantly to Oliver, Rollins became a leader across the locker room, on the field and off it.
“Offensive lineman are few and far between so everybody is looking for that diamond in the rough,” Oliver said. “Dylan is a kid who has the physical stature, but he also plays with such great tenacity and it was great to see him develop. What I was most proud of him was for his leadership and watching him mature to become a vocal leader and then lead through actions and serve other people. That’s what is most rewarding for me and then to see it rewarded with him being able to play Division I football at his dream school.”
The Spartans went 10-0 with Rollins anchoring the inside at left guard for a team that recorded 2,111 rushing yards and 34 touchdowns via the ground game. He allowed just one sack last season.
Rollins was a First-Team All-State honoree and was selected to play in the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl.