At this time last year, Daniel Britt was just hoping for an opportunity to play.
Britt had fallen to fourth on the Liberty quarterback depth chart after he “broke my face” on a freak play in a spring practice.
Now, after leading the Patriots to their first Class 4A state championship, Britt, a senior, has committed to play Division I football at Montana.
“They started recruiting me about two months ago,” Britt said. “When they offered me, I had looked into the school a lot. Being able to see how beautiful the city of Missoula is and looking at the town and knowing coach (Bobby) Hauck was at UNLV made me a little more comfortable.”
Hauck is in his second stint with the Grizzlies. His first run ended with an 80-17 record from 2003 to 2009 that included three trips to the Football Championship Subdivision national championship game.
He left for the UNLV head coaching job and was 15-48 from 2010 to 2014. His best season was 2013, when he led the Rebels to a 7-6 record and their only bowl appearance since 2000.
The Grizzlies were 10-4 last season and reached the second round of the FCS playoffs.
“You can’t ask for more in a program than wins,” Britt said. “They make the playoffs every year and compete for national championships. I want to be that guy to make Missoula happy and make them proud and go win them a national championship, kind of like Liberty’s state championship.”
Britt was cleared to return during fall practice from his injury, which occurred when he slipped and caught a running back’s elbow to the cheekbone and eye socket. He required surgery to have four plates inserted into his face.
While he was injured, Britt said he remained engaged in the film room so he would be ready if his name was called. And he was.
Britt completed 77 percent of his passes for 2,141 yards and 24 touchdowns with one interception. But what set him apart from the other Liberty quarterbacks was his running ability, as he added 791 yards and 10 scores on the ground.
The Patriots didn’t lose with Britt at quarterback. They were 10-0, including a 30-24 overtime win over Bishop Gorman that ended the Gaels’ run of 10 straight state championships and a 50-7 victory over Centennial in the title game.
The 5-foot-11-inch, 187-pound Britt is a two-star recruit on rivals.com. He said Eastern Kentucky was interested in him and that he had an offer from Morehead State. But he liked what he heard from Montana the most.
“The ideal quarterback is 6-2 or taller,” Britt said. “The first thing they told me on the phone was we really like your film, and we don’t care about your height or how much you weigh. Everything we care about shows on film. We know you can play. You’re obviously a competitor and don’t like to lose.”