Independence Community College was close enough to Chance Main’s home that he could live with his parents while attending school as a freshman in 2017.
The 40-minute round trip drive from Cherryvale, Kan., was just far enough, however, to keep him from going home between two-a-day football practices. So, Main sat in his car during the break while the teammates he had yet to really meet, including Jamar Mongtomery, went back to their dorms.
“I was sitting in my car and Jamar sees me sitting out there and he goes, ‘You wanna come in here?’” Main said. “He had a little dorm room with AC right there and I said, ‘Yeah.’ I started hanging out in his little dorm room there, right off the road into the campus, and then we just started being friends.”
Five years later, the two have a life-long bond and have been reunited as teammates with the Colorado Buffaloes, playing their final year of college football together.
“I’d go as far as saying Jamar isn’t my friend; he’s just my brother,” Main said.
The 6-foot-4, 250-pound Main and the 6-2, 250-pound Montgomery both play as defensive ends/outside linebackers. Beyond football, though, there wasn’t much they had in common when they met in the summer of 2017.
Main grew up in Cherryvale, which has a population of just under 2,200. Montgomery grew up in Birmingham, Ala., which has a population of about 211,000.
Main grew up hunting, fishing and doing all sorts of country life activities. Montgomery was more of a city guy.
After an All-State senior season at Parker (Ala.) High School, Montgomery found Independence to be the best option for continuing his football career, but it was a dramatic change for him.
“Definitely a big difference (from Birmingham),” Montgomery said. “I had a mission where I was like, ‘OK, cool, I understand that I’m in the middle of nowhere. I’m not going to have the city life from Birmingham.’ … I kind of grew into the things that were going on out there.”
It was in Montgomery’s dorm room that the friendship formed, but it was at the Main home in Cherryvale where it really blossomed.
“It was bigger than ball for me and him,” Montgomery said. “He lived out there. Him and his family took me in with open arms. We just clung on together and it didn’t really take much because we’re both all-loving people. It kind of worked out for the best.
“It meant a lot to me, because I went out there alone, only 17 years old.”
Main and his family introduced Montgomery to fishing, hunting, four-wheeling and all sorts of outdoor activities.
“I had never done anything like that,” Montgomery said. “It was very fun.”
Main laughed when recalling the first time he brought Montgomery home.
“He was all nervous,” Main said. “It’s a lot different situation out there in rural Kansas. But then after that, I mean, man, we didn’t realize it, but we were having some of the most fun in our entire lives. We took every opportunity to go do whatever we wanted, anytime.
“We have nine or so ponds on one property and we’d hop in the four-wheelers any time we got a break and it was fishing competition all the time. He’s really gotten into fishing.”
For two years, Main and Montgomery competed together for ICC. Those two seasons were featured on the Netflix documentary, “Last Chance U.”
Montgomery was a star for the Pirates and, rated a three-star prospect, accepted a scholarship offer from CU after the 2018 season. This is now his fourth season with the Buffs.
Main played well when healthy, but battled injuries and his opportunities to continue playing were limited. He landed at Incarnate Word in San Antonio in 2019. After two seasons at IWU, and then missing 2021 with an injury, Main came to CU this summer.
After they went their separate ways, Main and Montgomery remained close, meeting up in Kansas, Colorado or Alabama at times.
“We always communicated,” Montgomery said.
Last spring, Main was looking for a place to play his final season. He thought he was going to get a scholarship offer from Florida State, but the Seminoles offered that spot to someone else. North Texas gave him an offer, but it wasn’t the Power 5 spot he wanted.
During a phone call to Montgomery, Main said to his friend, “Hey, man, just show a coach this film real quick.”
About a week later, CU defensive coordinator Chris Wilson called Main and offered him a scholarship. Main quickly accepted.
“That was pretty easy decision,” Main said.
Main credits Montgomery for helping him get to CU, but Montgomery deflects that credit.
“I put a good word in for him and obviously I’m here,” Montgomery said. “But his film spoke for itself. He was obviously an underrated guy and everyone is starting to see that now.”
Regardless of how Main got to Boulder, both of them were excited about the opportunity.
“Man, it was a dream come true, honestly,” Montgomery said. “I never thought I’d be playing with him again.”
Naturally, it didn’t take long for Main and Montgomery to start doing outdoor activities together in Boulder.
“When I got here in the spring, me and Jamar, we both bought bikes and we turned into mountain bikers,” Main said. “All sorts of stuff, running up in the mountains and had a phenomenal time – and taking care of business when we need to, also.”
As sixth-year seniors, this will be their final year of college football. Perhaps there will be an opportunity to play after college. Either way, they’ll continue that bond that formed in Independence.
“Our relationship hasn’t changed,” Main said, “and I don’t think anything could change it, no matter what really happens.”