The #MTTop40, MTN Sports’ list profiling some of Montana’s best football players, started on July 2 with the defensive backs. We then moved through the defensive line before tackling the linebackers this week.
The linebackers featured arguably the best high school linebacker in Montana history in Great Falls CMR’s Pat Taylor, as well as Big Sky Conference record-setting ‘backers Mark Fellows, Jason Crebo and Jim Kalafat. After a standout Montana State career on the defensive line, Corey Widmer transitioned to linebacker to build a solid NFL career and nab the top ranking.
But there have been a number of quality linebackers who called the Treasure State home. Here are some of honorable mention athletes, keeping in mind that many linebackers played both ways and could be included at their offensive positions later in the #MTTop40.
#MTTop40 linebacker honorable mentions
Sean Blomquist, Helena High
A former Class AA co-defensive MVP, Blomquist was a two-time all-American at Carroll College, setting the program’s all-time record for career tackles-for-loss with 54. After a short stint in the Canadian Football League, Blomquist is now an assistant coach at Kalispell Flathead.
Brock Coyle, Bozeman
After two standout seasons at Montana, the Seattle Seahawks signed Coyle as an undrafted free agent in 2014. He’s played in 51 career games with the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers, totaling 97 tackles, and signed a three-year contract extension with the 49ers earlier this year.
Joe Cummings, Stevensville
The 1991 Montana Gatorade player of the year at Stevensville, Cummings played collegiately at Wyoming, starting first at linebacker and then becoming an all-conference defensive end. Cummings played professional football from 1996-2001, spending time in the NFL and the now-defunct NFL Europe and XFL.
Jeff Ellis, Billings Skyview
Ellis was a three-sport standout at Billings Skyview in the late 1980s, claiming state championships in wrestling and the javelin while also earning all-state honors in football. The only Skyview football player to have his jersey retired, Ellis continued his career at BYU.
Dane Fletcher, Bozeman
A former first-team all-American and Big Sky Conference defensive MVP, Fletcher has a Montana State-record five career blocked kicks and ranks fourth in program history in career tackles-for-loss (51). Fletcher had a six-year NFL career, appearing in 54 games and recording 120 tackles.
Cory Huot, Anaconda
One of the all-time great athletes in Anaconda history, Huot excelled in both basketball and football, scoring more than 1,000 career points in basketball. After earning all-state honors at running back, linebacker and punter his junior and senior seasons, Huot continued his football career at Oregon State and became a four-year letter-winner for the Beavers.
Jon Knutson, Great Falls CMR
After a standout career at Great Falls CMR, Knutson signed to play at Colorado, which was coming off the 1990 national championship. Knutson was a four-year letter-winner for the Buffaloes, his best season coming in 1993 when he recorded 49 total tackles.
Pat Ryan, Billings West
Ryan was a sensational player at Billings West, where he was a two-time Class AA defensive MVP and the 1998 Gatorade player of the year when he totaled 179 tackles, 18 tackles-for-loss, 11 sacks, nine forced fumbles and one interception. Ryan became the first Montanan to play at Notre Dame since Dean Studer in 1956.
Kirk Timmer, Jefferson
After graduating from Jefferson High School, Timmer became one of the best linebackers in Montana State history, setting the program’s all-time record for career tackles with 518. He led the 1984 national champion team with 138 tackles to earn all-Big Sky Conference honors.
Jordan Tripp, Missoula Big Sky
Tripp had 12 sacks his senior year at Missoula Big Sky to earn all-state recognition before becoming a two-time all-American at the University of Montana. Tripp was selected by the Miami Dolphins in the fifth round of the 2014 NFL Draft and has appeared in 34 NFL games with four different teams.