(STATS) - They think big with University of Montana football.
On National Letter of Intent Day Wednesday, that concept was evident in the Grizzlies' 31-member signing class. Coach Bob Stitt's new group helped restock the offensive and defensive lines, adding 12 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).
"Overall, I'm ecstatic. I couldn't believe that our assistant coaches put this type of class together," Stitt said. "Not only are they great football players, they are high character kids, high GPA kids that will go to class, guys who will be great teammates and guys that the coaches can really trust."
Another of the 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
Sammy Akem, WR, 6-4, 188, Broken Arrow, Okla. (Broken Arrow)
*James Banks, LB, 6-1, 225, Eugene, Ore. (Sheldon/UAB)
Conlan Beaver, OT, 6-5, 250, Fredericksburg, Va. (Massaponax)
Trace Bradshaw, DL, 6-3, 225, Bozeman, Mont. (Bozeman)
*Austin Carver, K, 5-9, 200, Gilbert, Ariz. (Gilbert/Mesa CC)
Brennan Corbin, WR, 6-5, 200, Anaheim, Calif. (Villa Park)
Lewis Cowans, CB, 6-1, 195, Mission Viejo, Calif. (Mission Viejo)
Gavin Crow, S, 6-1, 195, Kennewick, Wash. (Kamiakin)
*Brandt Davidson, DT, 6-3, 295, Tuscon, Ariz. (Ironwood Ridge/Scottsdale CC)
Josh Egbo, DB, 6-2, 186, Gilbert, Ariz. (Highland)
Dylan Eickmeyer, OG, 6-4, 260, Tucson, Ariz. (Salpointe Catholic)
Noah Gerald, DE, 6-3, 201, Gilbert, Ariz. (Williams Field)
Rey Green, RB, 5-11, 213, Vancouver, Wash. (Union)
*James Homan, WR, 6-2, 175, Brenham, Texas (Brenham/Blinn College)
*Lane Hovey, WR, 6-4, 205, Adel, Iowa (Adel HS/Nebraska)
Thayne Jackson, OG, 6-5, 265, Gilbert, Ariz. (Gilbert)
Gresch Jensen, QB, 6-2, 187, Auburn, Wash. (Auburn Mountainview)
*Connor Kaegi, QB, 6-7, 205, Ashland, Ore. (Ashland/Feather River College)
Trase Le Texier, LB, 6-2, 226, Boulder, Mont. (Jefferson County)
Jace Lewis, LB, 6-1, 207, Townsend, Mont. (Broadwater County)
Esai Longoria, DT, 6-3, 268, Caldwell, Idaho (Vallivue)
*Myles McKee-Osibodu, DT, 6-3, 270, Santa Ana, Calif. (Centennial/Santa Ana College)
Caleb Mitchell, LS, 6-1, 185, North Bend, Wash. (Mount Si)
Jed Nagler, WR, 6-3.5, 207, Whitefish, Mont. (Whitefish)
Dareon Nash, WR, 6-2, 175, Covina, Calif. (Charter Oak)
*Reese Phillips, QB, 6-2, 225, Chattanooga, Tenn. (Signal Mountain/Kentucky)
Randy Rodriguez, DT, 6-3, 230, Peoria, Ariz. (Centenial)
Cole Rosling, DL, 6-4, 225, Helena, Mont. (Capital)
Brandon Scott, OT, 6-7, 330, Owasso, Okla. (Owasso)
Ashton Torres, OT, 6-4, 285, Aurora, Colo. (Cherokee Trail)
Samori Toure, WR, 6-3, 175, Portland, Ore. (Westview)
* - Transfer