Montana signing class deep in linemen

(STATS) – They think big with University of Montana football.

On National Letter of Intent Day Wednesday, that concept was evident in the Grizzlies' 28-member signing class. Coach Bob Stitt's new group helped restock the offensive and defensive lines, adding 10 additions between them, as he heads into his second year guiding the historic Big Sky Conference program.

Among offensive linemen, three-star signee Thayne Jackson, a 6-foot-5 tackle from Gilbert, Arizona, and Ashton Torres, a 6-4, 285-pound tackle from Aurora, Colorado, were key recruits. Up front defensively, the Grizzlies' signees included transfers Myles McKee-Osibodu (Santa Ana College) and Brandt Davidson (Scottsdale Community College).

One of the other key signees was former Kentucky quarterback Reese Phillips, although Montana is returning its starting signal-caller, Brady Gustafson. Phillips has either two or three seasons of eligibility remaining, depending on a possible medical hardship.

Montana finished 9-5 overall and 6-2 in the Big Sky this past year. Stitt's first season in Missoula included regular-season wins over five-time FCS champion North Dakota State and conference rivals Northern Arizona, North Dakota, Eastern Washington and Montana State as well as an FCS playoff victory over South Dakota State.

Montana is in its final year of having reduced scholarships – 59, four below the FCS-level maximum – because of NCAA sanctions.

2016 Montana Commitment Class

Ashton Torres, OT, 6-4, 285, Aurora, CO (Cherokee Trail)

*Austin Carver, K, 5-9, 200, Gilbert, AZ (Gilbert/Mesa CC)

*Brandt Davidson, DT, 6-3, 295, Tuscon, AZ (Ironwood Ridge/Scottsdale CC)

Caleb Mitchell, LS, 6-1, 185, North Bend, WA (Mount Si)

Cole Rosling, DL, 6-4, 225, Helena, MT (Capital)

Conlan Beaver, OT, 6-5, 250, Fredericksburg, VA (Massaponax)

*Connor Kaegi, QB, 6-7, 205, Ashland, OR (Ashland/Feather River College)

Dareon Nash, WR-Y, 6-2, 175, Covina, CA (Charter Oak)

Dylan Eickmeyer, OG, 6-4, 260, Tucson, AZ (Salpointe Catholic)

Esai Longoria, DT, 6-3, 268, Caldwell, ID (Vallivue)

Gavin Crow, S, 6-1, 195, Kennewick, WA (Kamiakin)

Gresch Jensen, QB, 6-2, 187, Auburn, WA (Auburn Mountainview)

Jace Lewis, LB, 6-1, 207, Townsend, MT (Broadwater County)

*James Banks, LB, 6-1, 225, Eugene, OR (Sheldon HS/UAB)

*James Homan, WR, 6-2, 175, Brenham, TX (Brenham HS/Blinn College)

Jed Nagler, WR-H, 6-3, 207, Whitefish, MT (Whitefish)

Josh Egbo, DB, 6-2, 186, Gilbert, AZ (Highland)

*Lane Hovey, WR, 6-4, 205, Adel, IA (Adel HS/Nebraska)

*Myles Mckee-Osibodu, DT, 6-3, 270, Santa Ana, CA (Centennial/Santa Ana College)

Noah Gerald, DE, 6-3, 201, Gilbert, AZ (Williams Field)

Randy Rodriguez, DT, 6-3, 230, Peoria, AZ (Centenial)

*Reese Phillips, QB, 6-2, 225, Chattanooga, TN (Signal Mountain/Kentucky)

Rey Green, RB, 5-11, 213, Vancouver, WA (Union)

Sammy Akem, H, 6-4, 188, Broken Arrow, OK (Broken Arrow)

Samori Toure, WR, 6-3, 175, Portland, OR (Westview)

Thayne Jackson, OG, 6-5, 265, Gilbert, AZ (Gilbert)

Trace Bradshaw, DL, 6-3, 225, Bozeman, MT (Bozeman)

Trase Le Texier, LB, 6-2, 226, Boulder, MT (Jefferson County)

* – Transfer