Griz add trio of JC standouts to 2017 roster

Montana Sports Information

The Montana football program added a pair of pass rushers to the defensive line and more competition to the quarterback position, signing three talented junior college transfers to National Letters of Intent on Wed., Dec. 14.

Set to become Griz are quarterback Caleb Hill (6-4, 205) out of Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, defensive end Chris Favoroso (6-3, 255) out of Arizona Western in Yuma, Arizona, and defensive end Dylan Gilfoy (6-5, 252) out of Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, California.

The trio of junior college products will enroll at the University of Montana in time for the spring semester and will participate in spring football, not only familiarizing themselves with the X’s and O’s of Griz football but bonding with their new teammates as well while pushing for a starting position.

“These three each have the ability to help us immediately and make us a better football team immediately, which is what we need,” said Montana head coach Bob Stitt.

“We need guys that can come in here and compete. We need to raise the level of competition every day in practice, so when we get into games it’s not a big thing, and all three of these guys will come in and push starters, or will start.”

Hill comes to Montana out of Blinn College in his hometown of Brenham, Texas, the same quarterback hotbed that produced NFL star Cam Newton.

At Brenham High, Hill was a three-sport letter winner in baseball, basketball, and football, earning several Texas All-State honorable mentions and the MVP of the Bayou Bowl all-star game his senior year.

At Blinn, the left-handed sophomore and team captain earned SWJCFC honorable mention accolades in 2016 and was ranked as the No. 13 junior college QB in the nation, all while earning a place on the Athletic Director’s Honor-Roll for his performance in the classroom as an accounting major.

“I’m really looking forward to getting up there, getting to work and learning everything,” said Hill, who feels like he will fit right in with Montana’s offensive system.

“The offense at Montana is very similar to Blinn’s. I mean, it’s not even funny how similar the two offenses are. Here at Blinn, the quarterback can make the calls, the blocking, everything, and I was able to succeed.”

That success at Blinn included 872 yards in the air over six games in 2016, completing 53 percent of his passes while throwing for five touchdowns with no interceptions. He also ran for a pair of touchdowns.

Comfort in the offensive system wasn’t Hill’s only reason for choosing Montana however. As a native Texan, he felt like he wanted to go somewhere where football was religion. He found that at UM.

“The joke in Texas is that we have two seasons: football season and spring football season, and they aren’t lying,” laughed Hill. “So when I went up there I wanted an atmosphere that was like home where they were passionate about their team and their school. That was the vibe I got when I first stepped on campus. They care about their football, and they’re going to cheer them on and have pride about the Griz no matter what.”

Favoroso comes to Montana from Arizona Western College, where he and the 11-1 Matadors were just 30 seconds shy of an NJCAA National Championship in 2016, falling to Garden City (Kan.) in the El Toro Bowl on a last minute score.

The one time Appalachian State commit with NFL aspirations out of Port St. Lucie, Fla., was AWC’s third-leading tackler in 2016 with 65 takedowns at defensive end and ranked second in the ACCAC in sacks with 10.5 and 22 tackles-for-loss.

A one-time national-caliber wrestler, who was on track to grapple for the West Virginia Mountaineers before choosing to pursue football, Favoroso garnered plenty of attention with his numbers at AWC but chose Montana after visiting Washington-Grizzly Stadium.

“I love the coaches, the stadium, just everything about the school,” Favoroso said. “I can really picture myself playing on that field and making a big impact.”

Montana’s other D-end signee Dylan Gilfoy also produced big-league numbers for Diablo Valley College in Northern California, notching 11 sacks and 15.5 TFLs with 38 total tackles, two forced fumbles, and three pass breakups.

Gilfoy, a product of Liberty High School in Brentwood, Calif., earned All-CCCAA honors in his sophomore season, and chose Montana over Northern Arizona as the place to pursue his D-I dreams after a campus visit in December.

“I was just completely blown away by everything that I saw there. It shattered my expectations, and I just knew it was a perfect fit, so I committed. I was blown away,” he said.

The Grizzlies open the 2017 season on Sept. 2 in Washington-Grizzly Stadium against Valparaiso.