Montez believes he is the “best, baddest dude on the field” at CU
Is the rise for real? Or was Colorado football a one-hit wonder? It’s all on the shoulders of quarterback Steven Montez now. But think he’s worried? Think again.
“I feel like quarterback is one of those rare positions in football where you have to think you are the best, baddest dude on the field at all times. That’s how I look at the game and that’s how I play the game,” Montez told me. “You almost have to venture into cocky to go out there and perform extremely well as a quarterback.”
The best reason to believe the Buffaloes won’t fall out of the national rankings and back to earth could be found Friday, standing on the CU practice field. If all success in college football begins with a big-time quarterback, then Montez (6-foot-5 and 225 pounds) certainly looks the part. After winning twice as a starter last season, including the team’s breakout victory against Oregon, he acts as if replacing Sefo Liufau at QB will be no big deal.
“On the field, you’ve got to lead,” Montez said. “As a quarterback, you’ve got to find a way to go win.”
But the sun that felt so warm and comfortable on Montez’s broad shoulders in March can quickly turn to a white-hot spotlight in his face, if Colorado squanders its newfound football respect in September.
From his first start for the Buffaloes, when Montez threw for 333 yards and ran for 135 yards, there was no question he has the physical gifts to be a topflight quarterback, even in a conference as talent-rich as the Pac-12.
So I wanted to talk with Montez about leadership. The CU program will deal with something in 2017 it hasn’t experienced in at least a decade: the pressure of expectations. Montez believes a quarterback that won’t wilt when his team is trailing by 10 points at halftime has to know when to kick butt and kick back.
“If you’re working hard all the time, and every second of the day, you’re all about business, I feel like no one on the team is going to want to kick it with you, because you’re no fun to be around,” Montez said. “So, in practice, sometimes I’ll start dancing. You can’t be afraid to goof off a little. As a quarterback, you have to have a good mix of hard-work ethic, when it’s time to work hard, and also the ability to get with the guys on the team and vibe to build that camaraderie.”
To rise above a decade of losing foot- ball requires blood, sweat and a stubborn refusal to quit. A little luck also helps. The Buffaloes stole Montez out of the football-crazy state of Texas, without the Longhorns or Aggies noticing. He believes it’s because El Paso, where Montez attended Del Valle High School, is better known for athletes who score goals on the soccer pitch than throw touchdown passes in the high school playoffs.
It was at Del Valle, however, where Montez discovered he had the stomach to be a quarterback, even when the finger of blame was being pointed at him. As a sophomore, he threw four interceptions and got routed in the last game of the season by a crosstown rival.
“This was definitely big-time Texas playoff football, and I went out there and did not perform well at all. After throwing four picks, I was not feeling real confident. I was not feeling like I was the best quarterback in the nation,” Montez recalled. “But not long after that happened, something clicked in my head. And I decided, if I was going to be a quarterback, I was never going to let that happen to me again.”
Question marks abound regarding the Colorado defense, which must replace eight starters from a team that won 10 times in a season for the first time since 2001, but also gave up 79 points in its final two games.
There’s no doubt, however, about the CU quarterback. Montez does not fear failure. He’s the best reason to believe the rise is real.