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A pair of Southern California athletes and a defensive lineman from Washington recently committed to the University of Montana football program.

Cornerback Jimmy Wilson of Point Loma High School in San Diego, cornerback Tim Parks of Moreno Valley, Calif., and defensive lineman Craig Mettler from Walla Walla, Wash., all took official visits to UM last weekend, and committed at the end of their trips.

"They have a great tradition of football and they are always nationally ranked," said Mettler, a 6-foot-4, 240-pounder who was also offered scholarships by Idaho and Eastern Washington. "At Montana, you definitely have a chance at winning. The fans give 100 percent support of the team, and that's another good thing. The coaches are great. They have great facilities."

Mettler, who grew up down the street from former Grizzly linebacker Andy Thompson, was named first team all-conference on defense and second team on offense. Washingtonpreps.com tabbed Mettler to its second team all-state squads on offense and defense.

Mettler has already visited Eastern Washington, but canceled a trip to Idaho. He also garnered interest from Michigan State and several Pac-10 schools.

Mettler said coach Bobby Hauck told him he could play almost any position on the offensive or defensive lines, but will begin his Griz career on the defensive side of the ball.

"They are seeing me as a defensive lineman," Mettler said. "Coach Hauck told me I could play eight different positions. I don't know if he's exaggerating."

Mettler is a starting post player on the Walla Walla High basketball team, and also competes in track and field.

Wilson, a 6-1, 180-pounder, prepped at the same school that produced NFL players J.J. Stokes, La'Roi Glover and Eric Allen. Wilson, who has been timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds, played on offense and defense, scoring 20 touchdowns and rushing for more than 1,000 yards as a senior. He also intercepted three passes.

Wilson said he first became aware of Montana when his prep coach Mike Hastings traveled to Washington-Grizzly Stadium last year to check out the SprinTurf. Point Loma recently installed the surface.

"I liked the people (in Missoula)," Wilson said. "It's a football town. I liked the way I was treated when I went up there. And the Griz win a lot. I like Coach Hauck. I think he's a great guy, and all the coaches sound really enthusiastic."

Wilson said he was also being recruited by Wyoming and UC Davis. Wilson said he was supposed to travel to Laramie, Wyo., to meet with former Griz coach Joe Glenn at Wyoming, but he canceled his trip after committing to UM.

Parks, a 5-11, 182-pounder, was named first team all-league, and will play in an all-star game this summer. He intercepted four passes and finished with 72 tackles. On offense, he finished his career with 50 touchdowns and rushed for 1,100 yards as a sophomore and junior.

Parks said Idaho State recruited him to play wide receiver. He was supposed to travel to Pocatello for an official visit, but canceled the trip. He said Portland State, Northern Arizona and Colorado were also recruiting him.

"I got up there and I felt right at home," he said. "I fit right in. I want to go to work and win another championship."

Reporter Jon Kasper can be heard at 523-5247 or by e-mail at jkasper@missoulian.com

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