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Published on January 5th, 2017 | by Minty Coach

Minty Tidbits by Minty Coach: Gatorade POTY

Many of you have probably heard by now that Billings Senior standout Nate Dick was named Montana’s Gatorade Football Player of the Year; an appropriate accolade for a deserving athlete. When the news broke, the Mint sports squad had a conversation about previous winners and whether they panned out and how many had gone to either UM or MSU, etc. The topic seemed like a tidbit treasure trove, so I took the liberty of diving deep into the World Wide Web to further explore. Here’s what I discovered:

Did you know that of the 32 recipients, 26 hail from “AA” schools? Four have called “A” schools home while “B” and “C” schools have each claimed one award-winner.

Billings West and Helena Capital gridders have enjoyed considerable success over the years with each school garnering six awards. Bozeman is the next closest with 4 award winners.

The city of Billings is home to nine previous winners; Helena claims eight while Bozeman and Great Falls each have four.

Only three players have actually won awards for the Great Falls schools, but CMR-legend Dave Dickenson was actually a two-time winner of the award back in 1990 and 1991. Rustler running back Ben Drinkwalter and Great Falls High Bison slasher Rob Schulte were the other two Electric City gridders to earn the award.

Of the 32 recipients 12 have gone on to play for FBS schools while 20 moved on to the FCS ranks. The Grizzlies have corralled 13 previous winners while the Bobcats have laid claim to only 4. I don’t believe outgoing Bobcat and 2013 winner Gunnar Brekke used his redshirt season so imagine if Rob Ash had made the smart move and sat him out for a year?

Nine recipients were listed as quarterbacks, eight at either running back, linebacker or offensive/defensive line and a mere two at wide receiver. How about the fat man representation? Hog maulies for life!

I mentioned earlier our discussion about how many recipients have actually panned out. Well, the definition of success is largely subjective, but at least 7 previous winners have spent time with an NFL club. Three of those recipients, Mitch Donahue, Shane Collins and Brock Osweiler were NFL draftees. There have been a few who haven’t exactly worked out, but I’m in the business of building folks up, not tearing them down.

Super Bonus Tidbit Section…National GPOY Winners

Did you know that the last national football recipient to REALLY be successful post-award is Peyton Manning? Minnesota Twin backstop Joe Mauer actually won the award in 2001! What a stud. Other previous winners include Jeff George and Emmitt and Robert Smith, but that’s about it. Well-known names like Brock Huard, Tim Couch, Brock Berlin, Matt Barkley and Ron Powlus all received the award, but their professional careers were more disappointing than the recent Trump win.

Previous winners of the basketball and baseball awards fared much better professionally than their pigskin counterparts. Folks like Alex Rodriguez and Clayton Kershaw dot the baseball list, while LeBron and Kobe appear on the basketball annals.

Interestingly enough, the Male Athlete of the Year award has only once gone to a baseball player (Dylan Bundy, 10-6 last year with the Orioles) and more times than not is given to a basketball player. Previous winners include LeBron, Greg Oden, Kevin Love and Dwight Howard to name a few. Five gridders have received the award, but none have achieved much professionally. Greg Paulus is now an assistant at Ohio State. Garrett Gilbert and Matt Barkley haven’t panned out and two others, Johnathan Gray and Kyler Murray are still in college. Gray, a running back has never gone over 1,000 yard at Texas while Murray played as a true frosh at A&M before transferring to Oklahoma (surprise, surprise!).

And finally, per my research, no athlete from Montana has ever received a national award. Thanks for nothing Mr. Leaf.

Montana Winners

1986 – Mitch Donahue – Billings West (Wyoming/NFL) (LB)
1987 – Shane Collins – Bozeman (Arizona State/NFL) (LB/RB)
1988 – Jeff Tuss – Helena Capital (Fresno State/MSU) (QB)
1989 – Chuck Mason – Bigfork (UM) (LB)
1990 – Dave Dickenson – CMR (listed as Dickerson) (UM/NFL/CFL) (QB)
1991 – Dave Dickenson – CMR (listed as Dickenson) (UM/NFL/CFL) (QB)
1992 – Joe Cummings – Stevensville (Wyoming/NFL) (LB/OL)
1993 – Jason Crebo – Helena Capital (UM/NFL) (LB/TE)
1994 – Lance Lanning – Havre (None) (OL)
1995 – Jon Ueland – Billings West (Colorado State) (RB/WR)
1996 – Ben Drinkwalter – CMR (UM) (RB)
1997 – Andy Petek – Helena High (UM) (LB)
1998 – John Edwards – Billings West (UM) (QB)
1999 – Pat Ryan – Billings West (Notre Dame) (TE/LB)
2000 – Bo Bartik – Billings West (Gardner Webb/West Georgia) (QB)
2001 – Mark Anderson – Fergus (Stanford) (TE)
2002 – Ryan Grosulak – Billings West (Carroll College) (RB)
2003 – Kyle Samson – Helena Capital (UM/Northern) (QB)
2004 – Rob Schulte – GFH (UM) (RB)
2005 – Shawn Lebsock – Billings Skyview (UM) (LB)
2006 – Alex Verlanic – Drummond (UM) (OL/DL)
2007 – Matt Hustad – Helena High (Arizona State) (DL)
2008 – Casey McMillan – Billings Central (Iowa) (OL/DL)
2009 – Brock Osweiler – Flathead (Arizona State/NFL) (QB)
2010 – Matt Miller – Helena Capital (Boise State/NFL) (WR)
2011 – Tanner Roderick – Bozeman (Nevada/MSU) (QB)
2012 – Caleb Kidder – Helena Capital (UM) (OL/DL)
2013 – Gunnar Brekke – Helena Capital (MSU) (RB)
2014 – Will Dissly – Bozeman (Washington) (TE/DE)
2015 – Andrew Grinde – CMR (Harvard) (RB)
2016 – Balue Chapman – Bozeman (MSU) (DL/RB)
2017 – Nate Dick – Billings Senior (UM) (QB)

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About the Author

Minty Coach

A proud native of Great Falls, Coach now resides in Missoula, however he's a Bobcat to the core.

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