Woody Brandom was a 6-foot-4, 220-pound converted offensive lineman when he made his verbal commitment as a tight end to the Montana Grizzly football team last September.
But with the Mick Delaney reign giving way to the Bob Stitt era in Griz coaching, the three-star recruit from Santiago High School in Corona, California, found himself in a whole new position. Stitt's spread offense has no use for tight ends, be they blue chippers or otherwise.
Brandom removed his verbal this month before switching sides to the Montana State Bobcats following an official recruiting visit to the Bozeman campus this past weekend.
Brandom told BobcatNation.com the Grizzly staff informed him there was no place for him as a tight end in Missoula and that the Californian should look elsewhere, which begs the question: If this is true, what do the Grizzlies see in two area TEs that would keep their interest?
Both Jesse Sims of Corvallis and Colin Bingham of Missoula Big Sky have scholarship offers from Montana and are scheduled for official visits this weekend.
It is true that Stitt's offense at Colorado School of Mines – the same scheme he is implementing in his first year as UM head coach – never employed tight ends. At least not in the traditional sense.
"We're just not recruiting tight ends anymore," the coach said plainly this week from Portland, Oregon, during the staff's last recruiting push before national signing day Feb. 4. Well, not to play tight end at least.
"It's just a bigger inside receiver," Stitt continued, describing an H-back type position spread out in the slot and back from the line of scrimmage. "We do like to have a guy like that."
Under NCAA rules, Stitt cannot comment on recruits before the young athletes sign their national letters of intent, but the coach did speak broadly about recruiting a Bingham (6-3, 235) or Sims (6-4, 235) type.
"In the past we've had guys that are basketball players, 6-3, 6-4 basketball players that really other coaches look at them and think they're not big enough to play tight end," he said. "And we think they're perfect."
Both Sims and Bingham play basketball. Griz assistant coaches Ty Gregorak (defensive coordinator) and Chad Germer (offensive line) were present at Big Sky's hoops romp over Frenchtown on Tuesday to scout Bingham.
Stitt added that a larger, traditional blocking TE can still find a place on his team, just at a different position.
"Guys can always be an inside receiver. And if that works, awesome; if not they can be a defensive end sometimes," he said. "If they're good enough, fast enough, they can always move some place."
Bingham, though, confirmed Tuesday that Montana and Montana State are recruiting him as a pass-catching threat from the slot. He caught 20 passes for 176 yards and five scores this past season, all while playing with a broken bone in his foot.
Sims -- who is also being recruited by Oregon State, USC, Arizona State and Nebraska -- caught 18 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns with Corvallis and also carried the ball 32 times for 102 yards and a TD out of the backfield.
As for Brandom's de-committal, Stitt wouldn't comment on the switch or any part his system played in the player's decision.
The Grizzlies had nearly all of their 59 scholarships – Montana is in its second of three seasons down from 63 because of NCAA sanctions – spoken for by the time Delaney retired at the end of last season. This last month of recruiting is crucial for locking down those recruits – and finding contingency plans should changes like Brandom's occur, UM running backs coach Justin Green said.
"The guys that committed we want to honor their scholarships and we need to do our job of keeping them because they're good players and we need to convince them to stay with us," said Green, the staff's recruiting coordinator. "If guys go, and we need to make sure we have somebody to replace that."
Brandom's change of heart marked the second such occurrence between Montana and Montana State in a little over a week. Butte wide receiver Dalton Daum dropped his verbal commitment to the Bobcats for the Griz on Jan. 11.