MISSOULA —  Keenan Curran half-jokingly refers to himself as "the grandfather."

He's the only senior wide receiver and there are only two juniors in his position group: Jerry Louie-McGee and Lamarriel Taylor. Justin Calhoun was the third junior in the room, but he switched to cornerback at the start of camp.

"In football terms, I'm pretty old," Curran said of his seniority.

Even though Curran's the only senior, he doesn't lead alone. 

"I always leaned on Justin a little bit. Not having him has made me have to step up," Calhoun said. "I've, in a sense, leaned on Samori (Toure) and Jerry a little bit more because I don't think leading is a one-person job. I think it's something that your group needs to do.

"Your group needs to be leaders in order to be successful. Having Samori step up and Jerry doing what Jerry does has really helped me in my role in trying to be the best guy I can be for my position group and for the team."

There isn't much seniority or experience with the tight ends either.

Caleb Hill, the lone senior tight end, almost exclusively played quarterback since high school and switched positions during spring ball. The only other upperclassman is junior Colin Bingham. 

"Colin's a kid that leads by example," tight ends coach Jace Schillinger said of Bingham. "He leads in a different couple ways as well. He's the first guy taking notes in meetings, asking questions. He's the first one in drills and sets the tone for our drills. He's got some good vocal leadership, which is important for us on offense. He's done a good job of embracing that role."

Bingham, a 6-foot-3, 230-pounder out of Missoula Big Sky, said being that vocal leader is something he's been working on.

"I've been trying to be more of a vocal leader this fall, whether it's calling the tight ends together or calling the skill guys together," Bingham said. "... It's nice to have the young guys in the room to help teach. I feel like teaching is a really good way of cementing knowledge."

Both the wide receiver and tight end positions are loaded with youth. 

There are four sophomore wide receivers: Samuel Akem, Samori Toure, Danny Burton and Nick Fouch. There are two redshirt freshmen: Malik Flowers and Mitch Roberts. And then there are three true freshmen: Gabe Sulser, Jackson Groff and Nick Germer. 

All the tight ends other than Bingham, Hill and sophomore Brennan Corbin are either true or redshirt freshmen. Matt Rensvold and Bryson Deming are the redshirt freshmen, while Max Morris, Colten Curry and Jake Olsen round out the true freshmen. 

"If you're going to have a good team, you need to have good depth," Montana coach Bobby Hauck said. "We all talk daily and we have a tendency to focus on the first group, but if you're going to have a successful season, you have to have depth.

"You have to have good players into your two-deep at every position or else you're going to wind up struggling at times. With the wide receivers and tight ends, they've been working hard. Again, it would be best for all of those groups if the young guys started pushing the old guys for playing time."

Cody Meyer earns scholarship

Hauck closes every practice with a huddle. And on Tuesday, Hauck called up junior walk-on offensive lineman Cody Meyer of San Marcos, California. 

By the end of the huddle, Meyer was no longer a walk-on. Hauck announced that Meyer had earned a scholarship. 

"I had no idea. I honestly thought I might get yelled at or made fun of or something," Meyer said in an interview with Voice of the Grizzlies Riley Corcoran

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After Hauck said Meyer earned a scholarship, the team jumped up in excitement to congratulate their teammate. 

"It's awesome. I came in with Cody. I don't ever know who's on scholarship and who's not, but seeing that guy work as hard as he has and going through the ringer in terms of roles, it's always awesome to see somebody that works that hard and sacrifices so much be given the opportunity of a lifetime," Curran said of Meyer.

"It's awesome for him. I know he deserves it and I'm super excited for him."

Meyer has been with the team since 2015. He took his redshirt year in 2015 and played in four games in 2017. 

He's vying for the starting center spot for 2018. 

"Cody's a very good student, but that's a lot of money to pay to go to school. And then to get a scholarship and you're an out-of-state kid too? That's a big deal. It's a huge deal," offensive coordinator Timm Rosenbach said. "I'm super proud of him and super excited for our team because of that."

Thayne Jackson retires

Sophomore offensive lineman Thayne Jackson took to social media Monday night and announced he's hanging up the cleats. 

"This wasn't an easy decision to make, but in an effort to take care of my personal and mental health, I have taken a step away from the game of football," Jackson wrote in an Instagram post. "I can't even begin to thank every coach, teammate, friend, family member, and everyone else that has supported me on this journey that began all the way back in 5th grade.

"Only God knows where I'd be today in life without these amazing opportunities that I've been blessed with. I will always support my brothers and I'm excited to watch them do what they do best this season. Don't sleep on Montana, they've got some dudes out there. Love y'all."

Jackson missed all of spring ball after having hip surgery. He was expected to fight for a starting position this fall on Montana's depleted offensive line. 

"Thayne's got some personal things going on and we need to give him some space," Hauck said at practice on Tuesday. 

He added: "These guys, they have lives. They're not indentured servants. They have lives outside of football. It's not their job. Young people have a lot of things pulling on them, pushing on them. Sometimes it gets to be where they have to step back."

Jackson told 406mtsports.com on Monday evening that he's going to continue his education at the University of Montana. Jackson is an anthropology major. 

Payton Stoner back with Grizzlies

Payton Stoner, a freshman offensive lineman from San Diego, has returned to the team. He was dressed out in shorts and Jackson's old No. 71 jersey, rather than full pads.

He left the team back in February and announced he would be attending Golden West College, a community college in Huntington Beach, California. 

"He's back. We're glad to have him, really glad to have him," Rosenbach said of Stoner after Tuesday's practice. 

New addition

Kadeem Hemphill, a junior cornerback who transferred in from Santa Rosa Junior College in Santa Rosa, California, was added to the roster recently. Hemphill is originally from Chicago and has an identical twin brother, Jalen, who plays linebacker. Jalen Hemphill is not currently on Montana's roster, but has been at practice in street clothes. 

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Amie Just covers Griz football and Missoula-area preps. Follow her on Twitter @Amie_Just or email her at Amie.Just@406mtsports.com.

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