Going through junior college can be a tough road to travel for some football players.
For Jamar Montgomery, it wound up being the perfect path, and one that will lead him to Boulder.
On Monday, the Independence (Kan.) Community College linebacker gave his verbal commitment to play for the Colorado Buffaloes. He is expected to sign his letter of intent next month and join the Buffs in the summer.
"It was definitely a positive experience for me taking this route," he said. "It's not an easy thing for certain people. My motto coming in was just: it can either make you or break you. I stood tall on that. I was a firm believer and kept pushing and kept going."
Montgomery, who is 6-foot-2, 235 pounds and took an official visit to CU over the weekend, is the latest addition to new head coach Mel Tucker's first recruiting class at CU. It's a class that now includes six JUCO transfers.
For Montgomery, a 2017 graduate of Parker High School in Birmingham, Ala., committing to CU is the culmination of a two-year journey to get on track academically and athletically. Eligibility issues in high school left him unable to go a four-year school, but he had a good relationship with a coach at ICC and landed there in the fall of 2017.
"I made it the best that I could make it, knowing I had to stay here two years," he said. "I couldn't sit around and have my head down low all the time. People that take the JUCO route, it's just a little detour."
That detour led to Montgomery graduating from ICC in December, but he had a few credits that weren't transferrable to Division I schools. So, he's spending this semester completing a biology class at ICC. Once schools found out he wasn't able to come in as a mid-year transfer, he said, "My recruiting process dropped down a lot."
On Jan. 11, Montgomery got his first call from CU. Just a few days later, CU defensive coordinator Tyson Summers made an in-home visit to Montgomery in Birmingham.
"He let me know I'm a big factor to them," Montgomery said.
Suddenly, the disappointment of staying another semester at ICC went away.
"It really worked out for the best for me because I wasn't getting any attention from any Pac-12 schools," said Montgomery, who also has offers from New Mexico and Utah State.
Although not heavily recruited, Montgomery fills a need for CU, which was looking to add another outside linebacker to this recruiting class. Although Montgomery played inside linebacker this past season at ICC — racking up 24 tackles and six sacks in eight games — he was a defensive end in high school.
"They saw that I was really a speed rusher, outside linebacker type of body," Montgomery said. "That's definitely what I feel like I'm best at. I'm definitely excited to get back to my normal position. That's somewhere I feel like I can make my money getting to the quarterback."
At CU, he'll be reunited with former ICC teammate Delrick Abrams, a cornerback who came to CU a year ago. Montgomery said the two grew close in their one year at ICC and had a chance to spend time together during Montgomery's visit to Boulder last weekend.
Montgomery is also excited to play for Summers and Tucker.
"I wanted to feel wanted and needed and that's what (Summers) gave me," he said. "Coach Tucker, the relationship we're growing now, it's early, but he's definitely someone I can come to and talk to, besides just football.
"Both of those coaches, there's definitely something I can look forward to."
Montgomery will have three years to play two seasons at CU.
"I'm really excited," he said. "In a JUCO situation, to have a Pac-12 school come up and have interest in me is definitely a blessing."
CU is looking to add a tight end, as well. Tyler Devera, a 6-4, 227-pound prospect from Bergen Catholic in New Jersey, was in Boulder for an official visit last weekend and said he "loved it." He is planning to take an official visit to Louisville this week and might visit Maryland before the signing period begins Feb. 6. ... Receiver Tarik Luckett, who committed to CU in September, has canceled plans to visit Oregon and will sign with CU, according to 247Sports.com.