They say you are supposed to play for the name on the front of your jersey instead of the name on its back. For former Irish quarterback Nate Montana, that’s about to get a whole lot easier — or more confusing, perhaps. The junior reserve quarterback announced yesterday that he was leaving Notre Dame to play for the University of Montana.
Montana would have likely started spring practice as the sixth of six quarterbacks on the Irish depth chart — a line-up that Irish coach Brian Kelly promised to cut down to four. After transferring back to South Bend for a Pasadena junior college last year, Montana completed 9 of 18 passes in three appearances this year, but made it clear to all that watched that he would not have a future under center for the Irish.
“After much discussion with Nate regarding his future with our football program, Nate decided it was in his best interests to leave Notre Dame and pursue opportunities at a different school. I enjoyed working with Nate and he was a valuable member of our team this past season. I wish him and his family all the best moving forward.” – Brian Kelly press release
His father Joe — a Montana that needs no introduction — met with the Grizzlies coach and officials from the athletic department earlier this week to discuss any concerns about the transfer. Because Nate is going from an FBS school to an FCS school he will be able to play immediately, meaning his biggest concern once he settles in on the Missoula campus will be making sure he puts his jersey on the right way.
Luke Massa to receiver?
More reports out of the heavily-populated Notre Dame blogosphere this week make it appear as if Kelly has already cropped his crop of QBs to four. Sophomore Luke Massa, who has four years of eligibility remaining, was likely going to take over the bottom rung on the depth chart when Montana departed. But, it appears that he may be sliding out to wide receiver.
Massa has the size (6-foot-5, 215) to play wideout and according to his high school coach has the hands as well. Lou Somogyi of Blue and Gold Illustrated caught up with Massa’s high school coach Steve Specht who said his former star had all the tools to play at receiver. “At 6-5, he’s long, has great hands, can jump and has really good hand-eye coordination,” Specht said.
The Cincinnati St. X high school coach also told Blue and Gold that Luke was thrilled to be at Notre Dame and would do whatever it takes to stay there. Massa occasionally played receiver on the scout team last year.
Knocking Montana and most likely Massa off the list doesn’t make Kelly’s job any easier in the next 200 days before Notre Dame takes the field against USF. The Irish are still left with four quarterback with considerable upsides in Dayne Crist, Tommy Rees, Andrew Hendrix and newcomer Everrett Golson. Although, it is probably a tough choice that the coaching staff is thrilled to have to make.