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Ben Weyer

If the quarterback is the general of the offense, his center is the lieutenant. And the Griz are getting their second-in-command back.

Well, pretty soon at least.

After missing all of the 2015 season with a knee injury sustained during the first week of fall camp, Montana offensive lineman Ben Weyer is back in uniform and on the field for spring practices. Just not all of them.

"Just getting himself healthy again and feeling confident on his leg," Griz head coach Bob Stitt said of Weyer's role during spring ball. "He's able to go through the drills, he's just not going through the full-contact stuff."

Weyer, an all-state player in high school who helped guide the Bozeman Hawks to an undefeated State AA title season in 2010, re-injured his right knee during live end-of-practice exercises three weeks before Montana's season opener last year. He required surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus, the procedure also cleaning up the remnants of an old injury to his PCL in the same knee.

The Griz missed Weyer's tenacity and knowledge in the middle of the line, where he started 12 games at guard the season before.

"He knows the call he wants to make and he's so confident in what he's making," said David Reese, a junior tackle. "He's our leader of the offensive line and the leader of this offense."

Weyer flexed that leadership by helping from the sideline in 2015, giving fill-in center Robert Luke an ear for questions and as much feedback as he could handle. Weyer was a constant presence despite not playing a game, Luke said, whether at practice, in weight training sessions or in position meetings.

"He's there for everything," said Luke, now a junior. "Injuries can do so much to a player and it didn't even faze him. He just came back, was there every single day helping us out."


Weyer is on track to be a redshirt senior this fall, his fifth of five seasons of NCAA allotted eligibility. But the association has medical hardship waivers for just such a situation as Weyer's.

If a player meets two major requirements -- having appeared in fewer than 30 percent of his games for the year and the injury happened within the first half of the season with medical documentation to support that -- an additional year of eligibility may be awarded by the conference, a "medical redshirt" season. Weyer's circumstance checks both of those boxes.

The Big Sky Conference will rule on hardship waiver petitions in the coming months.

Regardless of the number of years he has remaining in maroon, Weyer is staying on track to join the Griz for opening day this fall and wants to regain his starting spot at center. That's good news for all the Griz with perhaps the exception of Luke, who in a best-case scenario finds himself in a position battle and at worst out a job.

But Luke is taking it in stride.

"I'm not worried about anything, no," he said. "They've been trying me at guard, at different positions. I know I'm going to find a spot on this line and that's where I'm going to be."

Depth can be a godsend for when situations like Weyer's arise, and Luke has the ability to play multiple positions. He appeared in 10 games at guard as a true freshman in 2014.

He'll find his playing time among the five positions on the O-line, which rarely features a true two-deep lineup but rather five starters and a couple players who could fill in where needed.

"You really want your sixth guy to go in. Almost everybody in this group has to be able to play two positions," offensive line coach Chad Germer said. "(The starter) may have to move to make room for the sixth guy."

Montana plays in its second spring scrimmage Saturday at 10 a.m. at Washington-Grizzly Stadium. The event is free and open to the public.


NOTES: Will Weyer, the younger brother of Ben who was to be a redshirt sophomore quarterback this season, has retired from football because of hip injuries. He is not on the Grizzlies' spring roster.

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