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Fighting him off

Josh Horner is one of seven former Montana football players that will take part in the annual Griz Pro Day on March 12. The Great Falls native caught 72 passes for 809 yards and six touchdowns in his four seasons. 

TOM BAUER, Missoulian

MISSOULA — Of the thousands of players that have suited up for the Montana Grizzly football team since 1897, 146 of them have gone on to play in the professional ranks, with UM consistently producing more NFL and CFL prospects in recent years than many FBS programs.

Montana's next crop of pro hopefuls is set to make their impressions on scouts from across North America as seven former Griz return to Missoula for the annual Pro Day on Monday, March 12.

Check in for prospects starts at 9 a.m. and testing will run from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., with the jumping and lifting portions held in the new Washington-Grizzly Champions Center and the sprinting and agility drills held in Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Should Missoula encounter inclement weather, testing will be moved indoors to the running track in the Champions Center.

The Prospects:

• Checking in at 6-foot-5 and 232 pounds his senior year, Great Falls native Josh Horner will test as a rangy and strong H-back receiver. Horner caught 72 passes for 809 yards and six touchdowns in his four years with the Griz and started 10 games in 2017.

• Guard Robert Luke was a versatile mainstay on Montana's offensive line throughout his career, playing in 43 games and getting 24 starts in two different positions. Luke tipped the scales at 6-4, 318 pounds his senior year, earning an All-Big Sky Honorable Mention. He also excelled in the classroom as a four-time Academic All-Big Sky selection. He was a nominee for the Big Sky Special Teams Player of the Week his freshman year after blocking a game-winning field goal attempt at North Dakota.

• Cornerback Ryan McKinley returns for Pro Day after a stellar senior season where he led the Big Sky in passes defended (15) to earn a third-team all-conference nod. McKinley's senior year was also highlighted by a pair of interceptions, one of which he returned 53 yards for a touchdown against Savannah State. Tall and physical, the Anthem, Arizona native checked in at 6-1, 193 pounds at the beginning of the 2017 season.

• At 6-7 and 301 pounds, Grizzly ironman David Reese will show off his enticing size and speed for scouts at this year's Pro Day. Reese was the only Grizzly to take home first-team All-Big Sky honors in 2017, building on his second-team all-conference award from 2016. After being thrust into action as a true freshman, Reese made an incredible 46 career starts at tackle, nearly every game of his career.

• Defensive end Tucker Schye will also undergo Pro Day testing, potentially becoming the next in a long line of No. 37 jersey wearers to earn a shot in the NFL. The Malta native led the Big Sky Conference in tackles-for-loss (15.5) and led the Grizzlies in sacks (8.5) in 2017. He also produced the second-most forced fumbles in the league (3) and recovered the third-most fumbles (3). The Second-Team All-Big Sky performer played in nearly every game of his career, switching from linebacker to D-end as a sophomore.

• Makena Simis, who transitioned from quarterback to wide receiver as a senior, then returned to play quarterback as a backup in Montana's victory over Northern Arizona, will undergo Pro Day testing as an H-back. The two-time Academic All-Big Sky selection caught 12 passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns his senior year and ran for 105 more yards and a score as well. In his sophomore year, he tied the then-school record for passing TDs in a game with six against North Dakota, earning him Big Sky Player of the Week honors.

• Justin Strong is the final former Grizzly who will test for Pro Day. With three interceptions, one touchdown, and 116 return yards (all while wearing a cast on his left hand), Strong's remarkable performance against Portland State in 2017 earned him a hat-trick of weekly awards. Strong was named the NCAA FCS National Defensive Player of the Week, the STATS FCS National Defensive Player of the Week, and the ROOT Sports Big Sky Conference Defensive Player of the Week following Montana's 45-33 win over PSU.

• Montana Tech quarterback Quinn McQueary rounds out the Pro Day prospect roster. The 6-3 Manhattan, Montana native threw for 2886 yards and 23 touchdowns as a senior for the Orediggers.

Testing held in Washington-Grizzly Stadium is open to the public. Due to space constraints, fans are restricted from viewing the indoor portions of Pro Day and are restricted from accessing the field at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. Parking passes are available from the UM Police Department.

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