A recent verbal commitment from what looks like Montana's quarterback of the future didn't dissuade Eureka QB Garrett Graves from giving the Grizzlies his own recruiting commitment Monday evening.
He can do a whole lot more than pass anyway.
Graves, who broke the hearts of the Loyola Sacred Heart Rams with a game-winning Hail Mary touchdown in last fall's State B championship, lined up at very nearly every position for the Lions and is excited to bring his versatility to Missoula in 2018.
A running back, receiver and quarterback on offense, Graves played everywhere for Lincoln County High on defense but tackle. As one of his team's top athletes, he went wherever he was needed week by week.
"If the team plays a really tough wide receiver, I'll man him up all game (at cornerback)," began Graves, a 6-foot-3, 193-pounder. "If they have a really good run game, I'll play middle linebacker. If they have a fast quarterback, I'll play D-end."
Montana will give Graves a shot at quarterback when he arrives on campus, the rising senior said, but he has accepted a scholarship that covers full tuition to come in under the catch-all term "athlete." He chose Montana over a similar offer from rival Montana State, which was also dangling a chance to play QB.
"But I'm an athlete and I play all positions," Graves reiterated. "I'm not opposed to playing something else and I'll come in and do whatever I can to help win games."
That will likely entail playing somewhere other than quarterback, especially after JSerra Catholic QB Matt Robinson, a three-star recruit from Southern California, committed last Thursday to play for the Griz once he graduates.
Rather than be disappointed by Robinson's commitment and the level of competition it would bring to the QB position once he's on campus, it spurred Graves to jump on board too.
"I love competing, but I'm also excited to have more good guys surrounding me in my recruiting class," he said. "I want the best players possible to go to the U now."
Montana's coaches are prohibited from commenting on commitments until recruits have signed their letters of intent. National Signing Day is Feb. 7, 2018, but college football will also have an early three-day signing period for football in December for the first time every this year.
An all-state passer last year, Graves had to beat out two-year starting QB Austyn Sherwood for the job before taking over full time the third week of the season. Then it was Sherwood who caught the 38-yard bomb as time expired to beat Loyola, 31-28, in the title game.
That wrapped an 11-1 season with Eureka's first ever state football championship. Graves brought the same attitude to the wrestling mats this past winter, too. He posted an undefeated 43-0 record on his way to an individual gold in the 182-pound bracket.
"Physically he's such a gifted kid," began Trevor Utter, Eureka's head football coach and a former Griz player himself (1995-97). "He's fast and has great athleticism and he loves contact. When you have all of those features, that opens up the door quite a bit."
The Lions also captured the State B-C wrestling crown, again the first in school history.
Though a resident of northwest Montana, Graves didn't grow up with much of an allegiance to the Griz or Bobcats. His mother graduated from UM. His dad did the same at MSU, as did his older sister.
But the connection he made with the coaching staff during his stay at 7-on-7 team camp earlier this month stuck with him, he said, and implored him to add a commitment to the Griz to cap a most amazing sporting year for Graves.
"It's been amazing," he said of the past year that's included two state titles. "I'm nervous and excited to try and one-up it for my senior year. Maybe I can go out there and get a track title along with the other two. That's the goal."
Montana's fourth commit of the class of 2018 has the potential to be just the third Griz letterman from Eureka ever. The only before Utter was Eugene Fleming in 1945.
Graves joins previous in-state commits Nick Germer, a receiver from Missoula Sentinel, and Valier's Colten Curry.