Montana has added three late commitments to its football recruiting class of 2015 in the past week. By the looks of the last two, the program has highlighted special teams as an area of emphasis moving forward.
The Grizzlies announced the additions of two high school kickers earlier this week, each anouncment coming within just a few minutes of the other. Kicker Tim Semenza of Cathedral Catholic High in San Diego and kicker/punter Patrick LeCorre of Edina High in the Minneapolis suburb of Edina, Minnesota, are the latest Grizzly pickups.
Both players are preferred walk-ons and will join UM this fall after enrolling at the university.
The Grizzlies' signing class back in February also featured a freshman kicker with Butte Central's Danny Peoples joining Montana as a preferred walk-on as well.
That will give the Griz as many as seven kickers and punters for 2015. But the Montana coaching staff is likely planning for the future with three seniors on the roster: K Daniel Sullivan, K/P Chris Lider and P Stephen Shaw.
"I know there's a good punter, a good kicker, but all that competition, you never know what can come of that," LeCorre said. "You've got to embrace it. You've got to expect competition at that level, no way around it."
Sullivan (11-14), Lider (0-1) and junior Harrison Greenberg (2-5) combined for a 65-percent conversion rate on field goals in 2014.
LeCorre drew interest from UM and FBS programs Northern Illinois and Minnesota where he had a chance to walk on, but he also had a handful of scholarship offers from Division II schools around the Midwest.
The 6-foot, 195-pounder can kick or punt and hopes that diversity will aid him well in finding a place at Montana.
"I'm an all-around combo guy," LeCorre said.
LeCorre's career long in high school was 47 yards, though field goals of 55 aren't out of reach. His recruiting film shows several 40-yarders clearing the crossbar with room to spare.
Also featured in the film is a tooth-rattling block the kicker laid during a two-point conversion.
"He trains like a linebacker," said Reed Boltmann, LeCorre's high school coach at Edina, a school of about 2,600 students. "He's always in the weight room and I always have to kick him out."
"To me he's not a prototypical kicker. ... He's a guy who wants to be known as a football player. He wants to lift and condition."
When making their college decisions, LeCorre and Semenza each had input from current Grizzlies. LeCorre was teammates with UM defensive end Nick Mertes, a 2014 Edina grad, while Griz D-tackle Kyle Davis played with Semenza before graduating from Cathedral Catholic that same year.
What really sold Semenza, who had academic scholarships to Division III Cal Lutheran and Division II Concordia St. Paul, was his visit to Missoula in March.
"When I went up there I didn't really expect to be wowed," said the 5-7, 150-pounder. "From the moment getting off the plane, me and my dad were just amazed by the area, the town and the people.
"It's just a different world."
LeCorre echoed the sentiment during his official visit, also last month. Both players were present during spring practices.
Semenza's high school career-long field goal is a bit shorter than LeCorre's, 42 yards, but he rarely had opportunities for much longer at Cathedral Catholic.
And some of his best work was done on kickoffs, added Sean Doyle, Semenza's high school coach at the school of just under 1,700 students. His kicker had close to a 90-percent touchback rate.
"And I think out of the eight that didn't make it into the end zone, something like six of them we told him to pooch," Doyle explained. "We were trying to get the ball back or onside it. ... On true kickoffs, he missed the end zone I think twice."
The Californian has also had the benefit of working with former pro John Carney, the long-time San Diego Chargers kicker in the NFL who now makes his home in the San Diego area.
"He found me in the eighth grade," Semenza explained. "I'd never kicked before. He pulled me under his wing."
Carney, a 23-year NFL veteran who retired in 2010, runs Carney Coaching, consulting for kickers from high school age to the pros.
The Grizzlies also added preferred walk-on offensive lineman Joe Paolina of Poway, California, last week, another recruit from the class of 2015.