THE FRONT ROW with MARK NELKE: Louie-McGee: From walkon to the Griz record book

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Jerry Louie-McGee has always been soft spoken, preferring to let his exploits on the football field do his talking for him.

Growing up in Plummer, playing youth football.

Then at Lake City High.

And it has continued during his record-breaking career at the University of Montana.

Last Saturday night, in a game at Oregon, the fifth-year senior became the Grizzlies career leader in receptions. His third reception of the night gave him the record, breaking the previous mark of 192 set by Raul Pacheco, who played for Montana from 1995-98.

Its pretty cool, coming here as a walkon, getting my shot and just hoping Id get some snaps, or be able to help the team the best I can, Louie-McGee said Monday, during a news conference in Missoula featuring him and Griz coach Bobby Hauck. Living in Coeur dAlene, you know about this place, the standards and what it holds. It was pretty tough catching all those bubbles those first two years, but Im pretty blessed, and Im honored to have my name up there.

LOUIE-McGEE, who is all of 5-foot-9, 171 pounds, caught 123 passes in his first two seasons in Missoula, including 73 as a redshirt freshman. Many of those receptions came on bubble screens quick passes to the side, giving Louie-McGee the chance to make a man miss and break a big gainer.

When Bobby Hauck took over in 2018, the offense changed. The Griz were no longer going to throw 10 bubble screens a game, he said.

Still, Louie-McGee caught 42 passes as a junior to move into position to challenge the all-time receptions record.

Hes exciting to watch play, Hauck said. What you all (media) dont see is how hard he works, in the weight room and on the practice field.

The thing Ive probably appreciated the most about him is how much hes improved his practice habits, and how much hes improved his game, in terms of the broad sense. Its not just punt returning, catching the bubble screen. Hes become a way more complete football player. Hes bigger and stronger I think hes faster. Just the work that hes put in has made him an even better player.

Jerry on not catching as many bubble screens:

Im here to do what I can for the team, and put us in the best situation to win, and wherever the coaches want from me, Ill do the best I can, he said. Its pretty cool, but Im just doing what I can.

LOUIE-McGEE finished with six receptions for 66 yards against the 15th-ranked Ducks in a 35-3 loss in Eugene, Ore. He now has 196 career receptions.

Not bad for a former walkon. But then, hes never backed down from a challenge before.

I think what we learned is, no matter who were playing, were going to come out and do our best, Louie-McGee said. Were going to come out and play Montana football.

Mark Nelke is sports editor of The Press. He can be reached at 664-8176, Ext. 2019, or via email at Follow him on Twitter@CdAPressSports.

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