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“There was a ton of (talented Montana players) this year," says Montana football coach Bob Stitt, describing on Wednesday his pleasure with this year's recruiting class, "and we signed 10 of them we feel can help us win ballgames. You take those guys first then you build your class around it.”

Of the two states that produced the most members of the Grizzly football signing class of 2017, one you can probably predict. It's emblazoned across those iconic maroon-and-silver jerseys after all.

To name the other, you may need 49 guesses.

Montana flexed its in-state recruiting muscle Wednesday during college football's National Signing Day, but it complemented a haul of 10 Montana-bred recruits with three from far-flung Oklahoma. In all the Griz signed 18 high school seniors to national letters of intent to go with the previous signings of four mid-year college transfers.

So rare is an Oklahoma Grizzly that the all-time lettermen database found in Montana's football media guide -- the list covers nine pages dating back to 1897 with font best attacked with a magnifying glass -- is devoid of any mention of the Sooner State.

Less scarce for the Griz was Division I talent in the Treasure State this year.

UM piled high the prospects from both western and eastern Montana, its 10 doubling the number of locally grown signees announced at last year's signing day. Because of the depth in the state this season -- rival Montana State inked 10 locals as well Wednesday -- head coach Bob Stitt put added emphasis on combing the state for his recruiting class.

"There was a ton of them this year and we signed 10 of them we feel can help us win ballgames," Stitt said during a press conference at the Canyon Club high above Washington-Grizzly Stadium. "You take those guys first, then you build your class around it.

"... This group of 10 from Montana is something we're going to look back on in three or four years for why we are where we're at."

After cleaning up on Big Sky boys -- six on offense and four on defense -- Stitt utilized his coaching staff's connections to fill in the rest. Rather than setting up shop in Washington and California, traditional recruiting havens Montana mines year after year, Stitt turned his attention farther south.

Establishing a presence in Oklahoma wasn't an objective, Stitt said, but his staff had the background to expand to a new region. Defensive coordinator Jason Semore coached at both Oklahoma State and Tulsa as an assistant and his footprints were already there in the red dirt.

"You get it started, you break the ice and all of a sudden you've got four or five really good players out of the state," Stitt said. "All of a sudden these other kids, it gives you credibility. Once a great player from a state comes and has success, it's gonna snowball from there."

There aren't many snowballs or much ice in Oklahoma, but the message stands. In the past week linebacker Kendall Sweet (Tulsa) and running back Terron Moses (Vian) committed to join Carder Key (Broken Arrow). The three will unite with two Oklahoma signees from last year's class, receiver Samuel Akem and offensive lineman Brandon Scott, who both redshirted in 2016.

The trio is headed a long way from home, and Sweet called Semore the biggest influence in his final decision.

"He came to see me very often," said Sweet, who committed and signed Wednesday, in a message to the Missoulian. "Knowing how far Montana is from Oklahoma, showed me a lot of love."

A major factor in swaying recruits to Missoula -- for both those familiar with the state's flagship school and those who've only Googled it -- involved getting them on campus this past fall. Stitt said 19 of the 22 signees visited during weekends that involved one of Montana's six home games.

"We feel like if we can bring a recruit in to a game-day environment, see the game-day environment at Washington-Grizzly Stadium, we've got a chance to recruit not only against the best in FCS but also some of the mid-major type conferences in the FBS," Stitt said.

It helped the Griz land a slew of prospects who were mulling scholarship offers from larger schools. Among them were seven two-star recruits -- Helena Capital LB Marcus Welnel, San Diego OL Payton Stoner, Washington LB Michael Matthews and OL Skyler Martin, Oregon DE R.J. Nelson, as well as Sweet and Key -- and three-star safety Isiahia Banks out of Denver.

Montana's recruiting class was split evenly with 11 defensive players, 10 on offense and one listed as athlete. Six were on the defensive line with another four at linebacker. The Griz signed three quarterbacks on offense.

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