August 7, 2012

Montgomery headlines WR group

It's been clear to Stanford coach David Shaw for a long time that Ty Montgomery has a bright future in football.

As a sophomore in high school, Montgomery attended a Stanford football camp where he opened the eyes of Shaw and then coach Jim Harbaugh.

"We told him then, whatever it is, he has it," Shaw said.

He's done nothing to change that perception since.

When Montgomery arrived on The Farm last year, the coaching staff didn't even consider redshirting the Dallas native. In hindsight, he might have already been the most talented receiver on the team.

As he turned heads on special teams, Montgomery was brought along slowly on offense. Headed into the game at USC on Oct. 29 -- the eighth game of the season -- Montgomery had just two catches for 13 yards.

It was there when Stanford fans found out what Shaw already knew.

He finished the game with five catches for 87 yards, but it was a heads-up play late in the game that might have been most telling. In overtime, the coaching staff called for a hook-and-ladder through Montgomery, except there was one problem: he had never practiced it. The play had only been repped with Chris Owusu, who had been knocked out of the game late in the fourth quarter.

"Good thing I pay attention in practice and in meetings," Montgomery said. "Usually when you haven't practiced it, they don't want to take any chances of something going wrong."

Montgomery executed the play seamlessly, which was key in Stanford's 56-48 triple-OT win.

He went on to finish the season with 24 catches for 350 and two touchdowns, including a seven-catch, 120-yard performance in the Fiesta Bowl.

As Montgomery readies for his sophomore year, expectations both personally and externally have risen exponentially.

"It's completely different," he said. "I remember last year, when I was a freshman, I dreaded waking up every morning because I didn't know what to expect and I only halfway knew what I was doing. Now I'm really excited to come out here and play ball and show the coaches what I can do."

He added about 10 pounds of muscle in the offseason -- up to about 215 -- and was clocked at 4.4 seconds in the 40-yard dash during spring practice.

Whoever ends up at quarterback -- Brett Nottingham or Josh Nunes -- will have a legit No. 1 receiver to throw to.

"I think the expectations for Ty are through the roof. I think he knows that, I think he feels that," Shaw said. "As far as his skill set, it won't be too long before he's lumped up with the best guys in the nation."

With the departures of Coby Fleener (Colts), Griff Whalen (Colts) and Owusu (49ers) to the NFL, the team will need more than just Montgomery to step up. Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo present possibly the best 1-2 tight end combination in the country, but the rest of the receiving corps is a group of unknowns.

Shaw is confident in the ability of senior Drew Terrell, but he served mostly as a punt returner in his first three seasons (11 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD). Terrell will need a Griff Whalen-like evolution in his senior year to make life easier for Nottingham or Nunes.

Senior Jamal-Rashad Patterson is the most likely candidate to emerge from the rest. Originally a four-star recruit, Patterson's talent has never been in question. At 6-foot-3, 208 pounds, he possess the ideal size and skill to be an every down receiver in the Pac-12, but has never put it all together.

He was lauded for his practices leading up to the Fiesta Bowl and had a solid spring. How that translates into his senior year remains to be seen.

After Patterson, the most intriguing prospect might be redshirt freshman Jordan Pratt. The former minor league baseball player, excelled on the scout team last year and could be in line for an immediate role.

Follow Kyle Bonagura on Twitter: @KyleBonagura

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