About 25 miles outside of Pittsburgh, sits Carroll Township and its five thousand residence.
Like most townships that size; it’s quiet, remote and unworthy of any kind of extensive chronicling of events. It has, however, raised some notable athletes.
First it was Stan Musial, then Ken Griffey Sr and Fred Cox. In the early 70’s, it turned it’s attention once again to another athlete, Joseph Montana, Jr.
One Offer, Multiple Sports
Montana played baseball, basketball and football, the latter two were his biggest loves. An All-State player and state basketball champ, he was also a two-year starter and All-American in football. Colleges from across the country flooded the small town in order to talk to Montana.
But one stood out in particular.
NC State pushed hard for Montana on the simple premise, that if he joined the Wolfpack, he could play both football and basketball. While State basketball coach, Norm Sloan, did the pursuing, it was Lou Holtz and the football team that found Montana first;
“It was funny though, my staff didn’t even come up with his name – the football team did. When they asked if we would want him, I said, ‘Of course we would want him!'”
Sloan couldn’t have been in a better position to persuade Montana. In the previous two seasons, State had gone 58-1 with a National Championship. The pieces were in place to allow for a smooth transition for Montana. Once Sloan saw him, he knew he could be special at State.
“We offered him the chance to play both basketball and football, gosh, we thought he was outstanding.”
The last time Sloan left Pennsylvania, he thought it was all but done…
Montana Becomes a Legend
In the end, Montana picks Notre Dame because of two reasons. First, he wanted to follow his childhood idol, Terry Hanratty, who also went to ND. Another piece to the puzzle, reportedly, is Montana’s own Dad pushed for him to go for basketball, because it was the “easier route.” Joe took offense, like just about any teenager, and decided to focus on football to prove him wrong.
So thanks for nothing Joe Sr…ya jerk…
We know how the rest of the story goes. Montana shows up to South Bend and sits a few years with the ND program in a mess. Finally starts and eventually gets them a National Championship. Gets drafted, wins four Super Bowls and is consistently ranked as one of the top football players ever.
What if Montana Arrived in Raleigh?
We had so much damn fun digging into what happened if Shaq picked State, and In that scenario, the pieces were actually PERFECTLY aligned.
Montana’s time at State? Probably not what you’d think.
Montana would have most likely seen limited action in his freshman year, for both sports. In basketball, he would have been coming onto a team that still had Thompson and was relatively young. Hard to say if he would have been able to swing a few points in States favor. Maybe they finish slightly better than 22-6, but nothing crazy.
Football team also had a pretty solid year going 9-2-1. Could Montana have stepped in with Fritts and Hooks in the backfield and made the difference?
It’s understated how big of a mess Notre Dame was when Joe arrived. State, for either sport, was in a solid position to win from the get-go. While Montana’s college numbers aren’t great (30 Total TDs – 25 INTs), he was the player that willed his team to win. After taking over as starter in Week 3 of his Junior season, the Irish went 18-3, with two of those losses against top-5 schools. It may not be pretty, but State would have won some more games.
Maybe Joe Montana would have pushed State over the edge and into national contention. We’ll never know. But damn, wouldn’t we have been so lucky…
*Quotes from Sloan first appeared in the Greensboro News & Record
Kansas State Rolls Out Hype Video of Their Freshman Quarterback
When Kansas State lost their Offensive Coordinator Collin Klein to Texas A&M, the fear of Wildcat fans was that Freshman Quarterback Avery Johnson would follow. After 4-year starter Will Howard announced he would be entering the Transfer Portal, holding onto Johnson, who was a 4-star consensus prospect in high school, was a desperate need for K-State.
Kansas State rolled out a hype video of Johnson, revealing that he was changing his number from 5 to 2, which has been his number his entire life prior to college, establishing the fact that Johnson wasn’t going anywhere.
— K-State Football (@KStateFB) December 7, 2023
Johnson played in 7 games this season, completing 25 of 35 passes for 301 yards and 3 touchdowns, with no interceptions. He also rushed the ball for 225 yards and 6 touchdowns, averaging 5.0 yards per carry.
Out of high school, ESPN ranked Johnson as the #77 overall player nationally, the #3 dual threat Quarterback, and the #1 player in the state of North Carolina. Rivals ranked him as the #1 dual threat Quarterback.
NC State LB Payton Wilson Wins the Bednarik Award!
NC State’s Payton Wilson won the Butkus Award earlier this week, naming him the best Linebacker in college football. Tonight he won the Bednarik Award, which has been given out annually to the best defensive player in college football since 1995.
Wilson beat out Alabama Linebacker Dallas Turner and UCLA’s Defensive End Laiatu Latu.
Prior to this week, no NC State Linebacker had ever won the Butkus Award. Prior to tonight, no NC State defensive player had ever won the Bednarik Award.
Below is a list of the former Bednarik Award winners.
In one week, Wilson has done what no other Linebacker of defensive player at NC State has ever done.
Go ahead and retire the #11 already!
Wake Forest Transfer WR Welsey Grimes Commits to NC State!
NC State just picked up their first transfer of the 2024 class, and it’s a big one. Former Wake Forest Wide Receiver Wesley Grimes (6’2″/187) just committed to run with the Wolfpack.
As a Sophomore this season, Grimes caught 20 passes for 339 yards and 4 touchdowns in 12 games. As a True Freshman last year, he played in his 6 games, collecting 4 receptions for 33 yards and a touchdown.
In all reality, Grimes is coming home. He was a 4-Star prospect out of Millbrook High School here in Raleigh. ON3, 247Sports and Rivals all ranked Grimes as a Top-250 prospect in the 2022 recruiting class, with Rivals ranking him as the #36 overall player nationally, the #4 Wide Receiver, and the #2 player in the state of North Carolina.
From a recruiting rankings standpoint, Grimes instantly becomes the highest ranked player on NC State’s roster. Since he played as a True Freshman, Grimes has 3 seasons to play 2 years of eligibility.
Back in 2021, Grimes chose the Demon Deacons over NC State, Tennessee, Duke and Louisville. On December 8th, 2023, Grimes decided to come back home and run with the Pack.
Kansas State will be Without Their Offensive Coordinator & Starting Quarterback Against NC State
Kansas State will be without their Offensive Coordinator and starting Quarterback when they face NC State in the Pop-Tarts Bowl on December 28th.
New Texas A&M head coach Mike Elko, who just left the same position at Duke, paid big bucks to hire Wildcats Offensive Coordinator Collin Klein as his OC, who had been serving in the position at Kansas State for the past 2 seasons. For the past 7 seasons, Klein has served as the Wildcats Quarterbacks Coach.
This season, Kansas State ranks 23rd in Total Offense (446.1) and 14th in Rushing Offense (199.7).
As Quarterbacks Coach, he helped develop four-year starter Will Howard, who announced he would be entering the Transfer Portal on November 27th. This season, Howard earned 2nd Team All-Big 12 honors. In 12 games, he threw for 2,643 yards and 24 touchdowns (10 interceptions). Howard also rushed for 351 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Howard will be replaced by Freshman Avery Johnson. There was speculation that Johnson might follow Klein to Texas A&M, but he will be starting for the Wildcats in Orlando against the Wolfpack.