It's not easy getting a starting quarterback gig in college football, especially at the highest level. There are tens of thousands of high school quarterbacks fighting for just 120 FBS starting spots, and then after that, just 124 FCS starting jobs at quarterback. And for Nate Montana, he's now out of options at quarterback at both spots. So where to next? Division II, and the productive West Virginia Wesleyan program.
If you didn't already know, Nate Montana has some "name recognition": his father is the Hall of Famer Joe Montana. Yet after getting a chance at Notre Dame to follow his father as a walk-on. After a one year stint at a community college to get added playing time, he returned to Notre Dame in 2010 as the 3rd string quarterback, appearing in three games.
After that season, he transferred to the University of Montana, where he still struggled to get playing time, throwing just 42 passes the entire season. Along with a lack of playing time as a junior, things seemed grim for his future as a starter at the FCS power. And as reported by @egrizfans on Twitter late Tuesday (5/15) night, Nate Montana decided to make another program move. This time, to division II West Virginia Wesleyan.
A WVIAC conference power and among the top teams in Division II last season, the program is well known and respected in the lower ranks. Last year's quarterback (graduating senior Adam Neugebauer) was the WVIAC offensive player of the year, as he lead all of Division II in passing yards and passing touchdowns. And while the top two receivers from last year won't be returning (we thought Jon Meadows had fringe NFL ability), the team does return their 3rd best receiver, their top pass catching tight end, and a versatile and dynamic running back.
Despite the talent and the established program, don't expect to hear about Nate Montana for a while. While there's a chance the former Notre Dame quarterback could break even more records in his one year stint at WV Wesleyan and make the team a recking crew at the D2 level, odds are, he'll have a solid season in which he struggles early learning the new system and has an adequate senior season.
I'll be looking forward to scouting him this year and seeing more than just bits and pieces as we did at Notre Dame and Montana. And while I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, being 'Cool Joe's son' and all, he'll struggle to be the top division II quarterback prospect this year. If he takes this new spot and final chance at the NFL seriously, he'll need to be even more impressive than Mitchell Gale of Abilene Christian and Tim Jenkins of Fort Lewis, and turn heads every chance he gets. Because name recognition alone won't get him to the Division II playoffs or an NFL camp.