Iowa football recruit Jayden Montgomery out for season at Bay Port High School after torn ACL
Jayden Montgomery will keep looking forward, not wasting time feeling sorry for himself or wondering what could have been if he’d just stayed healthy.
Bay Port’s standout senior linebacker, arguably the best player in the area, had his season and prep career end Friday after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee during the first half of the Pirates’ 26-21 win at West De Pere.
The 5-foot-11, 225-pound Montgomery was injured early in Bay Port’s second defensive series — he also rushed for 16 yards on two carries — and he knew immediately when it happened that it wasn’t good.
Perhaps more frustrating is that Montgomery finally was making his season debut.
The University of Iowa recruit missed the first three games after undergoing a procedure earlier in the summer to clean up leftover scar tissue from a core muscle issue he had in middle school.
It happened after he already had missed the second half of his junior year with a hand injury.
Montgomery played about 15 snaps as a senior and 4½ games combined his final two seasons.
All the setbacks could be difficult for a player to accept, but Montgomery isn’t built that way. What is done is done. He will focus only on the things he can control, notably his attitude and strong work ethic.
He is expected to have surgery on his knee next Thursday. A torn ACL often takes about nine months to recover from, which at least gives Montgomery a chance to return entering summer workouts with the Hawkeyes.
The early plan is for him to be a medical redshirt in 2022 and retain four years of eligibility.
Montgomery said Iowa is aware of his injury and that he had a couple Hawkeyes coaches reach out to him. He wants to keep those conversations private but did say the program has been very supportive and encouraging.
“Obviously it sucked the day of, the day after,” Montgomery said of his injury. “You are in shock. You don’t know kind of what to do. Once you kind of get over that shock you are like, ‘Hey, it is what it is.’ You can’t go back and change it. You can’t go back and fix it. There is nothing you can do except kind of look forward.
“Keeping that same mentality and just fighting through it and knowing that I have something beyond this to work for.”
Montgomery was so good his first two seasons that he already had put himself in position to play in college.
He became the first freshman to start on any team coached by Bay Port’s Gary Westerman. He had a complete breakout as a sophomore in 2019 when he had 80 tackles, three sacks, two interceptions and two forced fumbles to help lead Bay Port to its first WIAA state title game.
He was just as good in the four games he played as a junior during the alternate fall season this spring, finishing with 51 total tackles and two sacks.
What turned out to be Montgomery’s final full prep game also is the one that best showcased his all-around talent.
It came in a loss to Neenah in April, when he had 12 tackles, rushed for 52 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and returned a kickoff 90 yards for another score.
He committed to Iowa in June.
“I know I’m very fortunate to be able to have the opportunity to play after high school,” Montgomery said. “That’s something a lot of kids, they just don’t have the opportunity to do, whether it’s because they come in too late or it just doesn’t work out for them.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to have somewhere to go play, and especially such a prestigious program like Iowa. Having done that with kind of only a couple years of film when I was younger, I’m very proud and fortunate that that’s going to be my path.”
Montgomery will have a new role with Bay Port the rest of the season.
He can’t play, but that doesn’t mean he won’t help the Pirates in their quest to win a fifth straight Fox River Classic Conference title and make a run in the playoffs.
Jayden Montgomery has turned into Coach Montgomery.
Just a few days after his injury, he already was immersed in film study with Bay Port defensive coordinator John Krause.
Montgomery is the latest in his family to turn to coaching. His father, Jerry, is the defensive line coach for the Green Bay Packers.
“They kind of offered me a coaching position to help with the rest of the year,” Montgomery said. “Our defensive coordinator teaches at Pulaski, so a lot of times he is not able to make it to practice until 3:30, 3:35. I’m kind of taking over his duties, I guess, until he can make it there. He’s our main inside linebackers coach, so I’m kind of taking over his duties and helping with some other coaching stuff.
“Just trying to stay with it and stay involved with the team.”