MISSOULA — Christmas came early for several future Montana Grizzly football players.
The first-ever Early Signing Period kicked off on Wednesday, Dec. 20, where the future of Griz football signed their name on the dotted line, making their commitments official. The early signing period lasts until Friday, Dec. 22. The traditional National Signing Day falls on Feb. 7.
"We're really excited about these young men," Montana running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Justin Green said. "You'll see that this class is filled with Montana players and a lot of key individuals out-of-state."
Capsules on each signee or transfer with comments from head coach Bobby Hauck or Green's comments (via multiple Twitter videos) are as follows, in alphabetical order.
Please note: This does not include every player who has announced their intentions to play for Montana, but rather who has signed their National Letter of Intent or has finalized their transfer with the University.
Eli Alford — 6-foot-1, 275-pound DT — Air Force Prep
Summing up Alford: Originally from Park City, Utah, Alford committed to Montana on Dec. 16 as the third to commit under Hauck. At Park City High, Alford was an all-state player in Utah. He also competed in track and field and was a regional champion in shot put.
What Green had to say: "He has very good quick twitch. He's very strong and I'm excited to see him rush the passer."
Sean Anderson — 6-foot-7, 290-pound OL — Buckeye, Arizona
Summing up Anderson: Anderson initially committed to Montana on Sept. 26. He was primarily recruited by Jason Semore. The Arizona Republic touted Anderson as the No. 38 recruit in the state of Arizona regardless of position.
What Hauck had to say: "The big man from Phoenix can play all five positions. We had a great visit with he and his family last weekend and they are excited to join Griz Nation."
What Anderson had to say: "After signing that paper, the feeling is surreal. It is truly amazing knowing that I am going to be part of a place with so much culture and love for the sport in general. I can't wait to get up north, perform my best and dominate up front with my brothers. I'm totally excited to be a part of the Griz family!"
Lorenzo Brown — 6-foot-4, 235-pound DE — Las Vegas
Summing up Brown: Brown committed to Montana on Oct. 19 after visiting UM. He led his Jaguars to two-straight Nevada 3A state titles and was named 3A Southern Lineman of the Year by NevadaPreps.com.
What Hauck had to say: "Lorenzo's a terrific pass rusher and he's big enough to play the run. He may be the next in a long line of great Grizzlies to wear No. 53."
Colten Curry — 6-foot-7, 210-pound DE/TE — Valier
Summing up Curry: Curry, following in his dad Scott's footsteps, initially committed to Montana on June 17 and is potentially the first 6-man product to play for UM. His Panthers made it to the semifinals this season. Curry made the all-state team as well.
What Hauck had to say: "Colten is a small-school star. He'll need to figure out where the other 10 players on the field are coming from. He comes from a Montana Grizzly family and he follows in his dad Scott's footsteps putting on the Griz helmet."
Nash Fouch — 6-foot-2, 200-pound S — Woodinville, Washington
Summing up Fouch: Fouch is a three-star safety who committed to Montana on Aug. 5. His older brother Nick was in last year's recruiting class and his dad went to UM. He was an all-state safety who played on both sides of the ball.
What Hauck had to say: "Nash has a good frame. He can play multiple positions. He can run, he hits. His dad is a Montana Grizzly alum and his brother is on our football team."
What Fouch had to say: "Honestly today is a great feeling for my family and I. My parents are really excited that my brother and I will be playing together again and it feels great to officially be a Griz. I'm just excited to get to work with the team and I can't wait to live in Missoula!"
Tyler Ganoung — 6-foot-5, 300-pound OL — Portland, Oregon
Summing up Ganoung: Ganoung is a 2-star offensive lineman who committed to Montana on Oct. 15. He lined up at tackle this season, but he expects on moving back to guard when he gets to Montana.
What Hauck had to say: "We need more guys like Tyler on our offensive line. He's a true inside offensive lineman and can road grade with the best of them. Coach Germer loves this guy."
What Ganoung had to say: "Four years ago I was told by my old head coach that I wouldn't make it on a Division I program. That the amount of student athletes that actually do is so small and I need to lower my standards. Instead of following what he said, I raised the bar and pushed through for three years to achieve one goal. A Division I scholarship. Today I have signed my NLI to attend the University of Montana and have officially proven everyone who doubted me wrong. Go Griz and I can't wait to be on campus next fall!"
Nick Germer — 6-foot-2, 175-pound WR — Missoula Sentinel
Summing up Germer: Germer, the son of former Griz All-American and current UM offensive line coach Chad Germer, was the first to commit to UM on April 15. He was an all-state wide receiver for the Spartans this season.
What Hauck had to say: "Nick is a local high school player. He grew up with the program. He's probably attended over 100 of our practices, so he knows what to expect."Coach (Chad) Germer loves this guy too."
What Germer had to say: "I was excited to sign for the past couple months and I woke up today beyond excited to sign at the school I've always dreamed of playing at. I'm excited to be with my new family of teammates and coaches when I step foot on campus and just ready to see what college has in store for me."
Garrett Graves — 6-foot-3, 190-pound QB — Eureka
Summing up Graves: Graves committed to Montana on June 26 and is the lone incoming true freshman quarterback in this class. He's won two straight football titles with Eureka and is vying for his second-straight wrestling title.
What Hauck had to say: "Garrett will play quarterback for us. He's a terrific athlete. He can run it. He can throw it. He's a great competitor. He's a winner. I can't wait to see him under center."
What Graves had to say: "I feel great about the tradition I am about to be a part of. There is a distinct energy I feel in Coach Hauck about winning and I'm very happy to be a part of that and not settle for anything less than championships. I am very excited about meeting all the men that are going to be a huge part of my life for the next four to five years and I can tell already they are great people and great leaders. I am also excited to play my heart out for Griz Nation because I know they care as much as I do about this amazing team and this great sport."
Levi Janacaro — 6-foot, 220-pound FB — Missoula Big Sky
Summing up Janacaro: Janacaro was the second Hauck-recruited commit to pledge allegiance to UM. He committed on Dec. 6. Janacaro is a bruising ball carrier who is known for breaking tackles — or carrying defenders on his back to gain more yardage. And he can throw. Janacaro was an all-state quarterback and was the Western AA all-conference offensive MVP.
What Hauck had to say: "He's another local guy. He brings toughness and attitude to our class. He's going to transition from quarterback to fullback. Not many guys can do that, but Levi can."
What Janacaro had to say: "Today has been amazing. It finalized me becoming a Grizzly. Ever since I was a kid, I've only dreamed about this happening and today makes that dream a reality. I'm just so excited I get a chance to play DI football and even more excited that I get to do it for my hometown team. I'm super pumped to be able to play for Coach Hauck and have him push my teammates and I to the brink, but making us better players and people. I'm ecstatic to work with the group of guys in my recruiting class and the classes above me too. I'm just super pumped for the whole process."
Max Morris — 6-foot-4, 230-pound TE — Kalispell Glacier
Summing up Morris: Morris was the first Hauck-recruited player to commit to the Grizzlies. Out of Glacier, Morris was honorable mention for all-state honors this season.
What Hauck had to say: "Max has a big frame. He's a high effort, high motor guy. He's just developing as a football player. He has Butte roots and he exhibits a lot of that Butte toughness."
What Morris had to say: "It's a really exciting day that I'll remember for the rest of my life. This is a huge opportunity for me to go learn from the best and play high level football. I'm really looking forward to soaking in as much as I can from the older players and learning as I go."
Jackson Pepe — 6-foot, 200-pound S — Kalispell Glacier
Summing up Pepe: Pepe committed to Montana back on Aug. 7 and was recruited by Shann Schillinger. He was an all-state honorable mention for Glacier this season.
What Hauck had to say: "Jackson can run, he can strike. He has great ball skills. He has a chance to play anywhere in our secondary."
What Pepe had to say: "I'm feeling awesome. I get to fulfill my dream of playing Division I college football. It's a surreal feeling being able to finalize my commitment. I'm very thankful to have been given this opportunity and it won't take it for granted."
Conor Quick — 6-foot-2, 270-pound C — Helena Capital
Summing up Quick: Quick committed to UM on Aug. 1 and was an all-state center two seasons in a row. Quick is currently nursing a broken leg and should be back to 100 percent in a few weeks.
What Hauck had to say: "Conor is extremely athletic for a guy his size. He can run, he can pull, he drags guys into the ground. He'll play center for us."
What Quick had to say: "I'm excited and looking forward to being able to play for Coach Hauck and Coach Germer and the rest of the coaching staff. Excited to be a Grizzly!"
Dalton Sneed — 6-foot-2, 200-pound QB — Fort Scott CC
Summing up Sneed: Sneed played at UNLV for two seasons before transferring to Fort Scott Community College in Fort Scott, Kansas. He was an honorable mention QB for the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference this season.
What Hauck had to say: "Dalton is a very athletic quarterback and a tremendous competitor. He'll bring that attitude to our locker room and our field and we're looking forward to watching him play."
What Sneed had to say: "I'm super excited to continue my academic and athletic career at such a prestigious football school. I just can't wait to get to Missoula and start working with my coaches and teammates toward one common goal; a national championship. I'm coming to be a Griz to WIN!"
Gabe Sulser — 5-foot-9, 165-pound WR — Billings Senior
Summing up Sulser: Sulser committed to Montana on July 13 and was the state's Swiss Army Knife on the gridiron. He earned all-state nods for wide receiver, punter, cornerback and kickoff returner after leading his Broncs to two-straight state titles. Unsurprisingly, one of Montana's best talents was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state.
What Hauck had to say: "Gabe is a special guy. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Montana this year. He chose UM over many other options. He's a true Griz. Both his mom and dad were great Grizzlies in their own right and his sister's on our track team. We think Gabe can provide explosive plays; big play ability to our offense."
What Sulser had to say: "I'm super happy to finally be a Griz. It's a dream come true. I love everything about the university and the football program. I look forward to making an impact on the team and win lots of games. I'm also very excited to build relationships with new teammates and friends."
Drew Turner — 6-foot, 200-pound RB— Kalispell Glacier
Summing up Turner: The record-breaking running back committed to UM on Sept. 11. Turner earned an all-state accolade for his efforts for Glacier.
What Hauck had to say: "Drew is a big running back with good speed. He can run through you and he can run by you, but there's nothing subtle about Drew's running style. I'm excited to watch him carry the ball."
This story will be updated as student athletes respond with their thoughts on making their commitment official.