The hoopla and commotion of national signing day are long gone, but the Montana Grizzly football team is still adding players. Two more future Grizzlies have joined the fray as walk-ons with a third likely on the way later in the spring.
Transfer quarterback Eric Prater will participate in spring practices next month and is enrolled at Montana, while Butte Central all-around athlete Danny Peoples has filed his application and paperwork with the university to attend and play football with the team this fall.
Prater, a 6-foot-2, 205-pound passer, comes to Missoula from Lake Havasu, Arizona, by way of Hawaii. The QB redshirted last season with the Warriors after a four-year stint with the U.S. Army Airborne Special Forces.
Prater, 23, initially enrolled at Northern Arizona right out of high school but did not play in any games before heading for Hawaii as a walk-on.
The addition gives the Grizzlies six quarterback options currently enrolled for spring semester. Montana also added an Idaho transfer in redshirt junior Chad Chalich on signing day to go with freshman Willy Pflug, who graduated early from Portland's Sunset High. Incumbents Brady Gustafson, a redshirt junior; Makena Simis, a redshirt sophomore; and Will Weyer, a redshirt freshman, are also still on the roster.
Whether all six remain at quarterback or with the program is yet to be seen.
Peoples, who played quarterback and safety for Butte Central as well as kicker, will suit up as the latter once he joins the Grizzlies. The 6-foot Maroon had offers from several Frontier Conference schools to play QB and kick, but was swayed to walk-on with the Grizzlies.
"My decision basically came down to whether I was ready to give up playing quarterback," said Peoples, an all-state QB and the Southwestern A co-MVP as a senior. "It's what I've done since fourth grade.
"...I'd always been a Griz fan. Growing up, all the little Montana kids want to play for the Griz. When I had the opportunity (at Montana), that definitely had a part in my decision."
Peoples, who threw for just under 2,000 yards with 18 TDs and rushed for another 700 with 12 scores, was a touchback machine on kickoffs for Central and made 8 of 10 field goals as a senior. His longest attempt of the season, 40 yards, was among the makes.
He chose the Griz over Division-II Adams State, Montana Tech in Butte and a legacy opportunity at Carroll College. His father Don Peoples Jr. and grandfather Don Peoples Sr. both played for the Saints, along with two uncles.
Linebacker Jason Lind of Lutheran High (Orange, California) is also expected to join Montana next fall, though his paperwork is on hold until a spot opens up after spring practices, Lind told the Missoulian.
Football Championship Subdivision teams may split up 63 scholarships among 85 players with another 20 as preferred walk-ons. All 105 spots are currently spoken for.
Lind, a 6-foot, 235-pounder, played middle linebacker and tight end for Lutheran.