The Montana Grizzlies focused on the homefront in their 2014 football recruiting class, bringing in half of the 24-player group from the Treasure State.
Glacier safety Evan Epperly and Whitefish receiver Sean Foley head a class that also includes state offensive player of the year Will Weyer of Bozeman.
Epperly, at 5-foot-10, 180 pounds, was one of the most versatile players in the state last season on his way to earning Western AA offensive MVP honors. He was named first team all-state on offense, defense and special teams this season, accounting for 55 catches for 1,126 yards and 14 TDs, along with 51 tackles, 10 pass break-ups, and five interceptions.
“I have never seen a more talented athlete, like Evan is, take as big a leap from his junior to his senior year,” Glacier coach Grady Bennett said. “He was always good. He started for us for three years. As a junior he was a very good football player.
“I’ve never seen a kid take as big a leap, just overall. What he did, in his work ethic and everything, to become the player that he became all around as a senior, I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Epperly is just the second Glacier player to commit to the Griz for football, following quarterback Shay Smithwick-Hann, who is entering his final season in Missoula. Epperly plans to major in education.
“He’s a goal driven kid,” Bennett said. “Just to be a part of lineage of safeties that have been at Montana. That’s pretty enticing for him too, to step in and try to be that next great safety.
“He does give them versatility. He’s easily a kid you can move to slot and he can be a great receiver as well. As well as use him in the return game. I know they’re excited to get him back there and let him return kicks as soon as possible. That might even be a way he gets on the field as a young player. Whether that’s as as a freshman or redshirt freshman, getting back there and returning kicks. He definitely has the ability to do that at the college level. He’s an athlete that brings a lot of versatility to them.”
Foley, a 5-10, 165-pound first team all-state cornerback for Whitefish, also brings a load of versatility to the Griz. As a senior, he scored touchdowns in nearly every possible way for the Bulldogs, with 35 catches for 605 yards and seven TDs, 363 rushing yards and five scores, five interceptions with two return touchdowns, two kickoff returns for TDs and one punt return for a score. The Grizzlies plan to play him at wide receiver, where he should be able to use his speed to make plays. He has been a three-year letter winner on the track team, serving as a captain on the state championship team last season. Sean’s older sister, Amanda, is currently a sprinter for the Griz track and field team. He plans to major in business in Missoula.
Weyer, a quarterback for Class AA state champion Bozeman, leads the rest of the class which will try to lead the Griz back to the top of the Big Sky Conference.
2014 Montana Football Recruiting Class
Player Pos.Ht. Wt.Hometown
Josh BussLB6-3 195Boise, Idaho
Reese CarlsonWR6-4 215 Gig Harbor, Wash.
Austin ChadderdonFB6-2 200 Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Tristen ClarkWR6-2 180 Deer Lodge
Shayne CochranLB6-1 210 Culbertson
Ben D’AltonDL6-3 230 Billings (Blgs Central)
Kyle DavisDT 6-1245 San Diego, Calif.
Evan EpperlySafety5-10180Kalispell (Glacier)
Manu Hudson-RasmussenSafety6-0180 Tigard, Ore.
Carl JohnsonRB6-0 180 Hardin
Riley KackFB6-2 240 Bozeman
Caleb LyonsWR5-9 185 Lakewood, Wash.
Jake MannSafety6-1 185 Encinitas, Calif.
Milan MarreroLB5-11200San Diego, Calif.
Nick MertesDE6-3 230 Edina, Minn.
Evan MikschDE6-3 255 Lake Stevens, Wash.
David ReeseOL6-7 270 Clackamas, Ore.
Tyler RichtmyerLB6-2 215 Missoula (Sentinel)
Dylan StensethLB6-2 225 Lewistown
Kole SwartzTE6-5 225 Missoula (Hellgate)
Alex ThomasLB 6-0 215 Great Falls (Russell)
Reggie TillemanTE6-4 195 Gensesee, Idaho
Will WeyerQB6-5 208 Bozeman