When Justin Calhoun crossed the line of scrimmage from cornerback to wide receiver as a senior in high school, he ignited a second competition to complement his football team's battle on the scoreboard.

This one included his brother, Jeremy Calhoun, the Long Beach (California) Polytechnic High School's starting running back. And the side game has been renewed this fall at Montana.

"It's just like high school all over again; we're competing to get the most touchdowns," said Jeremy, now lining up in the backfield with the Griz. "It's great to actually play with him again."

The Calhoun twins, a package deal in UM's recruiting class of 2015, are part of Montana's youth takeover at the offensive skill positions this year and major contributors to Montana's national-top-20 offense. Justin broke into the starting lineup at the season's opening and hasn't let go and Jeremy provides a bruising change of pace rushing the ball.

Separated by only a few minutes in age, the gap is a year when it comes to eligibility. Jeremy's redshirt came off last fall when the Griz ran shallow at running back. He's a sophomore this season while Justin remains a freshman.

Always the competitor with his brother, Justin's seat in the stands on game days during the 2015 season was tough to accept at times, he admitted.

"I came at it differently than I was supposed to. I wanted to play right away, didn't want to redshirt," Justin said. "Then I realized it did help me a lot. Now I feel like it's definitely a plus."

A year older and with more knowledge of the playbook, Justin has been one in a crowd of breakout receivers for the Griz. Fellow redshirt freshman Jerry Louie-McGee has gotten the most attention -- and for good reason with 41 catches, 366 yards and two touchdowns -- but Calhoun is second or better on the team in each of those statistical categories.

The 5-foot-10, 168-pounder has 19 catches for 212 yards and two more scores, including a 43-yarder from quarterback Brady Gustafson last week.

"Justin has done a great job all year out there, along with James Homan," Griz head coach Bob Stitt said. "We always tell those guys, 'Listen, you get in man coverage, just put the ball up there and let them go get it.' They've done a good job with that."

Homan, a junior college transfer from Blinn (Texas) College, broke out last week with a 103-yard performance and a TD against Southern Utah.


Jeremy Calhoun got the head start when it comes to the brothers' touchdown wars. The 6-foot, 203-pound back had a monster season around the goal line in 2015 and scored nine touchdowns despite only 100 carries and 291 rushing yards.

He picked right back up this fall with five scores already, each of them coming in the past two weeks. He's the team's leading scoring in the non-kicker, non-quarterback category and owns a significant chunk of UM's 36.3 points per game this season, the 18th-best mark in the FCS.

Montana's offense as a whole is good for 459.5 yards per game, good for 14th in the nation.

Jeremy has worked his way up to second on the depth chart at running back, spelling starter John Nguyen when the senior needs a break. His biggest improvement to gain the extra playing time comes not in his ability to rush, but to block, he said.

"It's something I really struggled with last season so I've been working hard. " explained Jeremy, who is up to 196 yards on the ground already. "We're a majority pass offense so I've got to make sure I'm protecting our quarterback and making the right reads to identify the rushers."

In Justin's eyes, his brother's recognition of running lanes is most impressive.

"I like his vision. Sometimes he sees a hole that I didn't see," Justin said. "In film, he squeezed through that hole to get to the end zone (on a 45-yard TD run last week). I was amazed watching that."

The sprint to score, Jeremy's longest run of his short Grizzly career, increased his lead in total touchdowns this fall, 5-2. If the siblings continue producing at such a rate, it won't matter much who comes out on top, though.

Montana wins either way.

"It's huge. We hung in there with those guys," Stitt said about recruiting the Long Beach Poly standouts. "We appreciate the FBS schools passing on 'em because they're pretty solid."

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