Mr. B-I-G

Defensive end Sam Montgomery has played the game of football only one season and he's already one of the most coveted prospects in the South.

Yes he's the BIG man on campus but his classmates and the community call him B-I-G for other reasons.

Picture this; you are 6-4 and 220 pounds. You have played the game of basketball since the age of three and you have learned how to play the game well. You play year around but you need something else in your life athletically. What do you do? You go out for football. That's exactly what Sam Montgomery did last fall.

"I was really looking for something else to do because I was bored," said Montgomery. "I was playing basketball year around. I fell in love with the game of football and being in this position is a dream come true."

Montgomery, now 6-5 and 240 pounds, recorded 20 sacks and 18 tackles for a loss last season playing defensive end, in his first. He showed blazing speed off the edge, the ability to rush the passer and he showed good skill against the run. More than anything Montgomery has great instincts for the game.

"I realized I was doing pretty well when teams started to really run away from me."

Montgomery helped his team to a 12-2 record, as Greenwood (S.C.) High School made it all the way to the state semi-finals.

"I think of myself as an animal out there. I rely on my instincts and move quickly like an animal. I practice that way to. I want to do it so it becomes an everyday thing, so it becomes a habit. I am like a sponge and I am always asking questions and learning. I look and examine everything and just soak it all in.

"I never quit out there. Regardless of where the ball is I always run it down. I strive for greatness and push myself. I know I need to work on technique, especially to get to the ball. I just use too much brute force and need to add finesse to my game."

Montgomery isn't your typical rising senior blue-chip prospect. He is well spoken, humble and very polite. These attributes were taught to him by his mother and his school mates took notice since his ninth grade year.

"They call me B-I-G. That's B, I, G. It stands for best independent gentleman. There are not too many (gentlemen) in this world anymore. My schoolmates have called me B-I-G since my freshman year and I owe that to my mom."

Colleges are noticing him as well. Right now, after playing football for only one season Montgomery is currently sitting on 13 scholarship offers but he has no clear favorites at this time. Miami, USC, Clemson, North Carolina, Florida State, Florida and Maryland are a handful of teams that he likes and they have all offered.

"Miami people are very down to earth and I know I can get into that program. They work hard and want to win a national championship. I would push myself to be one of the Miami greats if I were to go there. They also seem like they have good people and I hear Miami is a beautiful place.

"USC is a solid program. They are good and dominant and are expected to produce wins. What I really like about them when I spoke with them was that I talked with a bunch of coaches and felt like it was a great group effort on their part. They all wanted to get to know me. There seems like a family bond at Southern Cal and that makes me feel good. They have brotherhood.

"Clemson has really down to earth people. Clemson also wants to make something out of this season. They are tired of going the way it is and they will make a run this season for a national title. I can certainly feed off of that that. I love their hunger and I can see it in their eyes.

"North Carolina is very solid program and it's close to home. I am going to visit them at the end of March, early April. They have a great basketball program and I would love to play college basketball, especially for them.

"Florida State is much like Clemson to me, especially the personality of the coaches. I want to talk with the big man (Bobby Bowden) himself. I want to shake his hand and see how he runs the program. I want to compare him to his son (Tommy Bowden) and how he runs Clemson.

"Florida… I know their hype and atmosphere. I have heard stories of the swamp and playing for the Gators. I love the logo, the name and they win. I would love to help out that program. I need to get to know them better.

"Maryland. I like the turtles. They seem honest and very nice. I don't know too much but I will get face to face with them and ask the right questions. I love their logo and love the turtle."

Now as Montgomery mentioned basketball is on his mind in terms of his future decision. This past season he played center for Greenwood and averaged 16 points and 10 rebounds. He is good and hoops is his first love.

"Basketball will always be my first love. I want to play both sports and see where it goes. I have not really talked with the (football) coaches about it. I will ask what they think of me walking on to play basketball. I have to man up and say it and make a choice."

Speaking of choice, what will be the factors in Montgomery's ultimate choice and when will that be?

"First things, I want a strong academic program. If not I can't play for that school. Second, the coaches have to work together. There can be no stabbing in the back. They need to work together as a group and push the players hard, push them to greatness. I want to be pushed. I want greatness. There also has to be a brotherhood and you have to have fun, clean fun. I want to be around good people in a good atmosphere and I want someplace I really fit in and feels like home. I want be treated like part of the family.

"I want to make a decision about five minutes before Signing Day. This happens once and I want to enjoy it."

Montgomery has only visited Clemson and South Carolina. He hopes to visit both UNC and FSU very soon but has nothing yet set in stone. Between now and his decision ahead Mr. B-I-G just wants to keep pushing himself both on and off the field.

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