Knight no more: Analyzing the Montana Grizzlies’ backfield options going forward | Montana Grizzlies

MISSOULA — A week ago on Montana football team Senior Day, it was reported that running back Marcus Knight had entered the transfer portal.

The former All-American had an inconsistent season with the Griz in 2022, as well as an up-and-down production. He had 292 rushing yards and four touchdowns, but his four yards per carry was the lowest among the team’s running backs.

ABC/Fox Montana reported that sources have confirmed the news of his transfer. Knight’s profile page on the Grizzlies’ sports website was taken down Tuesday. This follows Drew Deck wearing Knight’s No. 21 jersey in the team’s final game against Eastern Washington.

So, how does Griz’s backfield look forward? It was pretty crowded at first, but here are some options that have seemed like an instant fix lately, and others that might be:

workhorse Ostmo?

Griz’s backfield has been committee-run for most of the season up until the last two games. Since the Cal Poly game, redshirt student Nick Ostmo has taken over.

He dominated the carries and got 26 against the Mustangs and 11 against the Eagles, which was still a team-high even though he only played one half. The next-next carrier in each game had eight tries.

He’s rushed for 367 yards with those totes and reached the end zone six times. That’s just under 10 yards per carry.

Like Knight, he was injured in 2021 and now appears to be back to full health. Whether it’s that development or Knight’s exit, leaning on Ostmo appears to be the Grizzlies’ near-term way of handling the transition.

emergence of children?

If the Griz fear exhausting Ostmo, they need someone to handle the tempo changes Knight received from behind the starter. That could be Isiah Childs who has shown promise over the past two weeks with extended opportunities.

Joining Akron with injured colleague Xavier Harris has shown that he can not only score touchdowns (three in two weeks) but also efficiently. In a small sample size of 16 carries in the last two contests, Childs has clinched 110 yards for an average of 6.9 yards per attempt.

Childs, starting the season as the fourth running back, has made his mark with head coach Bobby Hauck and is making the most of his chances. A former three-star leader who left high school, he hasn’t been unleashed at the college level, and if he keeps it up, he could be with the Griz.

Harris resurgence?

Harris hasn’t managed to pull off a carry since losing at Sacramento State. In that sense, he’s become the forgotten man in the backfield. And his recent injury, which has left him on crutches, won’t help.

But his preseason production cannot be forgotten. In the first few games of the year, it seemed like he might walk away with the leadback role. He had 23 carries in the first three games for 110 yards before finally taking the lead and breaking out.

In the team’s home game against Portland State, he had just eight carries for a whopping 92 yards and a touchdown from 64 yards.

If he can find a way to build some momentum, whether it’s health or good practices, he’s poised to be another viable backfield option.

Gimme the keys to Gilman?

This is probably the longest shot of all possibilities considering last week’s game was his first of his Griz career, but he impressed.

On just three carries, he registered 29 yards and a touchdown. He ran hard, broke tackles and showed why the fans are so passionate about him. The former two-star Minnesota prospect had a list of Division I offers and settled on the Griz, which will eventually benefit from him, if not more, this season.


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