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Missoula Big Sky quarterback Levi Janacaro stiff arms Missoula Sentinel's Simen Nordeide (33) in the first quarter. Big Sky beat Sentinel 44-40 in a last second thriller on Friday night at Missoula County Stadium.

TOMMY MARTINO, Missoulian

MISSOULA — As of two weeks ago, one of Missoula's premier football talents seriously considered walking on at Montana State.

Then came Bobby Hauck. 

Members of Levi Janacaro's family and some of his friends told him that Hauck was big on recruiting Montana kids.

"That really got my blood flowing," Janacaro said in a phone call with 406mtsports.com

Janacaro said Chad Germer, Montana's offensive line coach — and the father of one of Janacaro's close friends, Nick Germer — texted him on Friday to say that Hauck wanted to meet.

After some schedule rearranging, Janacaro met with Hauck on Sunday evening.

"I was nervous as ever," Janacaro said of how he felt before the meeting. "I had butterflies. I was sweating. When I met him, he was easy to talk to. He made the whole situation comfortable and relaxed. It was really nice.

"... He said they wanted me on the team, and that made my year."

Montana offered Big Sky's Janacaro a partial scholarship to play fullback on Tuesday evening, and he committed via Twitter on Wednesday morning.

"Extremely blessed, honored, and proud to announce that I am going to further my football and academic career at the University of Montana!" Janacaro wrote. "I thank God for this opportunity along with my parents, coaches and anyone else who has helped me along the way in this journey!! #GoGriz"

When Janacaro received the offer, he said he was "all warm and sweaty."

"I was super excited," Janacaro added. "It was a relief, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders."

He added: "I'm so pumped. It's been a great week."

There's a reason for that. Former Montana coach Bob Stitt only offered Janacaro preferred walk-on status.

"Levi's been a great teammate. He's a winner," Big Sky football coach Matt Johnson said in a phone call. "He's proven it through and through. I think those are all huge qualities that can help him move to that level."

Montana hasn't utilized a fullback since 2014. Jamal Wilson, who switched positions to defensive tackle for his senior season in 2015, was an all-conference honorable mention in 2014 at fullback.

The switch from quarterback to fullback won't be difficult for Janacaro, considering the Big Sky product played similarly to a fullback anyway as an Eagle.

"It gives me a little bit of pride to learn how to do it and how to do it well and bring it back and make it a known position again," Janacaro said. "I thought it was awesome. That's kinda how I played at quarterback."

Janacaro, a 6-foot, 208-pound all-state phenom, broke a handful of Big Sky records this season — including rushing yards in a game (285), total yards gained in a game (400), rushing yards in a season (1,952) and career rushing yards (3,933). Janacaro's career rushing yards are good for sixth all-time in Montana state history.

Janacaro earned first-team all-state accolades for quarterback. He was also named the Western AA all-conference offensive MVP.

"It's huge. As a coach, you're a little bit biased anyway, and we think the world of all our kids," Johnson said. "We get to see them everyday and understand what they're capable of. Especially a kid like Levi, he's worked his butt off, both in the weight room and in our program and in school.

"He's a kid who's proven it on the football field for three years now and it's good to see that people recognize that his potential as an athlete and a good kid gets rewarded."

Other verbal commits in Montana's 2018 class include: Kalispell Glacier's Jackson PepeDrew Turner and Max Morris, Loyola Sacred Heart's David Koppang, Eureka's Garrett Graves, Helena Capital's Conor Quick, Billings Senior's Gabe Sulser, Missoula Sentinel's Nick Germer, Valier's Colten CurryNash Fouch of Woodinville, Washington, Sean Anderson of Buckeye, Arizona, Tyler Ganoung of Portland, Oregon, Lorenzo Brown of Las Vegas, and Alex Johnson and Teshawn White of Los Angeles.

Matt Robinson, a three-star quarterback from San Juan Capistrano, California, announced his de-commitment to the program on Sunday morning. 

Amie Just covers Griz football for the Missoulian, among other things. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

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