It was through enjoying that Zinger Mountain Melt at Miller's Ale House in Orlando, and two or three meals together each week, that Montgomery and Richardson continued to build chemistry during their time at Winter Park High School.
They took different paths from there, Montgomery going to South Florida and Richardson to Iowa State. Yet, the two now find themselves sharing those meals again, albeit a different variety, following Montgomery transferring to Ames last fall.
“I always go back and it feels like high school days — me and him just throwing the ball,” Montgomery said back in August. “Some days we’ll go out there and just catch for the fun of it. Even on the field, it’s just a connection.”
That connection has finally culminated at Iowa State after Richardson connected with Montgomery nine times for 90 yards Saturday.
Montgomery, after sitting out the first game for transgressions that reportedly took place during the spring, may finally be reconnecting with his old high school teammate. Down went receivers Quenton Bundrage, P.J. Harris and Brett Medders with season-ending injuries, and now Montgomery, a redshirt sophomore, is needed to be a key contributor like he was against Toledo.
“I can say [rhythm] was one thing that stuck out to me a lot,” Montgomery said after his career performance. “The chemistry between me and him is not going anywhere. It felt great doing that.”
During his final two seasons at Winter Park, Montgomery made 96 catches for 1,662 yards and 21 touchdowns. As a true freshman at South Florida, he relied more on athletic ability than deconstructing defenses. Combined with his youth, he made six receptions for 65 yards.
Then USF coach Skip Holtz left for Louisiana Tech and Montgomery, after looking at a variety of options, moved on to Iowa State, which had originally offered a scholarship before he opted for South Florida.
Montgomery had work to accomplish while attending classes and sitting out last season per NCAA transfer rules. An undisclosed violation of team rules put Montgomery in street clothes for Week 1, but the 6-foot-5 receiver has grown.
“He’s had a lot of growing up to do since he’s been here,” wide receivers coach Tommy Mangino said in August. “He’s done that.”
“He’s definitely grown up and matured over the last eight months or so,” ISU coach Paul Rhoads added before the season.
On the football field, Montgomery has taken a step forward, too. He provides his former high school teammate a big target downfield, but Montgomery has also learned his physical ability means nothing if he doesn’t know the defense.
Montgomery admits that as a freshman at South Florida he didn’t totally understand things. In his year away from the field, he has learned to break down film to determine what holes will be open in various coverages.
That is where his relationship with Richardson again would intertwine. Montgomery was looking to prove himself this past off-season and Richardson was hoping to go from third-string quarterback to starter.
“If it was this play, what would you have?” Richardson would quiz Montgomery in the film room. “What reads do you have in this play?” Montgomery would ask back.
“We kind of kept each other motivated,” Montgomery said. “Sometimes it’d be getting hard for him and sometimes it’d be getting hard for me. He caught onto it just as well as I caught onto it.”
Montgomery now has 12 receptions for 130 yards on the season, and the Cyclones hope he’s just finding his groove as the second half of the season gets underway.
When he stepped inside the team meeting room after Iowa State’s homecoming victory, Montgomery set his Papa John’s pizza on a chair and prepared to address the media. A lot has changed since he arrived from Florida and left those Zinger Mountain Melts behind, but Montgomery is finally finding his way.
“Somewhat of a start for me,” he called Saturday’s performance. “I’m where I can at least build off it more and more. [This] was one of my good games and it was a confidence builder.”