The University of Montana has had a football program active since 1897 and has had many signature wins in program history including a pair of national championships. There have also been plenty of legendary players to come through the Montana Grizzlies football program, but which ones are the best? Here are our picks for the five greatest players in Griz football history.
5. Dante Olson
After redshirting his freshman season with Montana, Dante Olson became the Griz’s Special Teams Player of the Year. Olson’s success on special teams continued into his second season in the lineup, and in 2018 he got his chance to shine in the starting lineup. Olson set the new school record for tackles and became the Big Sky’s Defensive Player of the Year en route to becoming an All-American.
In his senior season, Olson took things to the highest level when he was named the Buck Buchanan Award Winner for being the FCS Defensive Player of the Year. A hopeful to be drafted, Olson wasn’t selected in 2020, instead making his way to the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad. After trying out for the team and the CFL’s Edmonton Eskimos, Olson retired from football in 2021.
4. Kirk Scrafford
Hailing from Billings, Kirk Scrafford was a monster of a man standing at 6’6” when he made his way to the Griz. Scrafford was an All-Big Sky player twice during his four years as a starter, playing in 43 consecutive games. Scrafford was an honorable mention for the 1988 All-American team and was named to the first team the following year.
Scrafford entered the 1990 NFL season as an undrafted player, signing with the Cincinnati Bengals. Scrafford made his first start in a playoff game and spent almost the entire 1990s on a roster. His stops in the league after Cincinnati were in Denver and San Francisco, playing his last game for the 49ers in 1998.
3. Tim Hauck
After starting his impressive college football career at the University of Portland, Tim Hauck transferred to Montana where he made an immediate impact. Hauck was the Big Sky Defensive Player of the Year in his final two seasons with the Griz, also making the All-American Team in the process. In 1989, Hauck was named the team’s most valuable player in 1989 but went undrafted the following year due to his size.
Hauck was signed by the New England Patriots, however, and wound up spending more than a decade in the NFL with seven different teams, most notably the Green Bay Packers and Philadelphia Eagles. Following his retirement in 2002, Hauck became a coach, returning to Montana to coach the secondary while also having stints with UCLA, UNLV, and three NFL teams.
2. Kroy Biermann
Born in Hardin, Montana, Kroy Biermann stayed in the state for college and became a four-year starter with the Griz. Biermann consistently piled up tackles (220) and sacks (32) during his career, becoming a two-time All-Big Sky and All-American player in 2006 and 2007. In the latter year, he was named the conference’s defensive MVP.
Biermann was selected in the fifth round of the 2008 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons, playing eight seasons with the franchise. Biermann retired after trying out for the Buffalo Bills in 2016, finishing his NFL career with 333 tackles, 23.5 sacks, and three defensive touchdowns.
1. Dave Dickenson
There’s little debate about the greatest player in Griz history, as Dave Dickenson is considered far and away to be the school’s (and Big Sky Conference’s) best of all time. Dickenson completed more than two-thirds of his passes with the Griz, throwing for 11,080 yards and 96 touchdowns compared to just 26 interceptions.
Dickenson led Montana to a national championship and was named the nation’s best player, winning the Walter Payton Award. The three-time All-American holds almost every passing record and went into the Canadian Football League out of college. Dickenson played with the Calgary Stampeders and BC Lions, as well as four NFL teams before starting his coaching career in Calgary in 2009.