David Montgomery is a 2019 NFL Draft eligible Running back for the Iowa State Cyclones. Montgomery, a native of Cincinnati, Ohio, was very lightly recruited while in high school. According to 247Sports, he was the 73rd ranked running back in the 2016 recruiting cycle. His offer list included Illinois, Indiana, Purdue, Marshall, and Iowa State. He was a three-time All-State selection as a dual-threat quarterback, rushing for 6,666 yards and 91 touchdowns in his career.
Montgomery didn’t have a single scholarship offer as he entered into his senior year of high school. Iowa State’s Wide Receivers Coach, Bryan Gasser, was previously a coach at Toledo where Montgomery participated in a camp. Many of the coaches felt he was the best player at that camp. Gasser, now at Iowa State, had this to say about the lack of interest in Montgomery, “It’s one of the biggest mysteries I’ve ever come across in recruiting, and I still can’t figure out how we got the kid. I think he should be playing anywhere in the country…You watch his high school film, and he’s unstoppable, you look at his numbers and they’re video-game numbers. He was the most dominant player in that area and in the state of Ohio. I couldn’t figure it out.”
Montgomery arrived in Ames, Iowa, in June of 2016 and got right to work. The day after he arrived on campus he went to his coach’s office and asked him for extra work. “I’ve kind of been that way my whole life,” Montgomery said. “I’ve always wanted to be ahead of the game or really push myself to be better than I was the day before. I kind of came in here knowing that if I came and worked, I’d get an opportunity to play.” Montgomery started the season as the backup to sophomore, Mike Warren, who was coming off of a freshman campaign where he had 227 carries for 1,339 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and 5 touchdowns. Warren was the primary back used in September and October but November is when Montgomery really had the opportunity to showcase his talent.
In the month of November, Montgomery had double-digit carries in all four games. He racked up 385 yards on 66 carries (5.8 yards per carry) but was held out of the endzone. Iowa State elected to use their quarterback (turned linebacker), Joel Lanning, to run in many of their goal line sets. Montgomery made seven catches in November for 64 yards (9.1 yards per catch). In total, Montgomery had 563 rushing yards and 129 receiving yards as a freshman. Iowa State Running Backs Coach, Lou Ayeni, had this to say about Montgomery, “A guy like David is very versatile, he’s a mismatch nightmare because he can run routes like a receiver, he can catch the ball like a receiver, you can put him at quarterback. You can ask him; he can throw it as far as anybody on our team.”
Montgomery is a very strong and athletic player. Listed at 5’11” and two-hundred-twenty-two pounds, he has the size to run between the tackles and punish defenders at the second and third levels of the defense. What makes him so special is that he has the instincts and vision to create yardage for himself and also possesses the agility of a much smaller, lighter back. The below clips highlight his versatility as a runner.
One of the most impressive things about his game is his agility. He is a “slash” type of runner with tremendous patience, feel and vision. His ability to make secondary cuts in the hole is a strength of his game and something that productive NFL backs do well. He consistently finds space in the defense and he has a knack for knowing when to put his foot in the ground and throttle up, throttle down or lower the boom. Montgomery has a very solid understanding of leverage and he runs with really good pad level. Defenders rarely have the ability to square him up and get him with a good shot. He does a very nice job to avoid taking the brunt of contact. In fact, it is often Montgomery who is the one delivering the blows.
I haven’t seen any verified athletic testing numbers for him but I imagine they will be impressive for a back of his size. He should test very well in agility drills and his 40-yard dash appears to be average for a back of his stature. Montgomery has a very strong trunk and his balance is one of his best assets. Considering that he was a wildcat QB in high school, he showed proficiency as a pass catcher and can stay on the field every down. Montgomery made 13 catches last season and I hope to see him further integrated into the passing game this upcoming season. Here are a couple of clips that show him as a receiver.
Damn, David, Damn.
— Joseph Hoyt (@JoeJHoyt) February 28, 2017
Montgomery had a really nice season as a 19-year-old true freshman. He managed to overtake a Freshman All-American, even if that was due in part to injuries and poor ball security from the incumbent and finished the season with a lot of momentum. This is a player that is still learning the nuances of the position and strengthening what is already a prototypical NFL feature back body. He is a very intelligent, mature runner that has the work ethic to be great. At this point, Montgomery continues to be an extremely under-rated prospect. He has displayed every trait that I look for in projecting a successful NFL running back. We still do not know if he will be able to shoulder double-digit carries for an entire college season, though I am confident that won’t be an issue. I have attempted to temper some of my excitement about his future but he is the type of player that keeps me on the edge of my seat when I watch him. I haven’t finalized my 2019 running back rankings yet but I do know that Montgomery will be in contention for my RB1 in his class.