Cat-Griz Game Day: Everything #37 is supposed to be

Malta proud, Tucker Schye waited his turn to be a star for the Grizzlies


November 17, 2017

AP Photo

Former Malta standout Tucker Schye has spent his senior season at the University of Montana wearing the No. 37 legacy jersey. Schye has also become one of the most feared defensive players in the Big Sky Conference, and, he's hoping he's not done yet, as a win Saturday in the Cat-Griz game would launch Montana into the FCS playoffs.

To guys like Tucker Schye, the Cat-Griz game isn't any old football game. It's not the next game on the schedule, or any other cliché' generally reserved for down-playing hype and excitement.

No, to Schye, who grew up on the Montana Grizzlies, and the Brawl of the Wild down the Hi-Line in Malta, the Cat-Griz game is something more, it's special, it's the opportunity of a lifetime.

"It's really special," Schye said of the rivalry. "It's something you have an appreciation for from day one and I'd say something that me and Josh (Horner) definitely have had an appreciation our whole life of. We've grown up around it. You never miss this game, growing up watching it, at least I didn't. You really know how special it is."

Indeed, Schye knows all about special. He came to the Grizzlies after a brilliant two-way career with Malta. And right from the start, Schye was pegged as one of the next special players from Montana to wear a Grizzly uniform.

That would culminate last winter with then senior Caleb Kidder handing off the No. 37 legacy jersey to Schye for his senior season. The number is reserved for a Montana-born defensive players\, and handed down from one No. 37 to the next.

It's an honor Schye took, and continues to take very seriously.

"Really I'd just like to say that I'm honored, honored to be chosen by Caleb to wear No. 37," Schye said after finding out he would be the next No. 37. "It's a real humbling experience for me. I'm just proud to represent the number."

Not only was Schye honored to be chosen, but the former Class B All-State standout seemed to have a great grasp of what type of player you must be to wear the number.

"To me it embodies obviously the Montana spirit," he said. "I guess what I mean by that is it's really that blue-collar, hard-working, mentally tough mentality. Just being a badass."

There's no question Schye embodies those qualities. Growing up on the Hi-Line, working hard for what you want, earning everything you get is a fabric of life. And he's always done that, whether in life or football.

And while he's enjoying an incredible senior season, one in which he's clearly one of the best defensive ends in the Big Sky Conference, long before he got to wear the legacy jersey, Schye had to earn everything.

He arrived at Montana in 2013, and while expectations were high, Schye was a linebacker at 197 pounds. And in a linebacker room filled with stars, playing time was going to be an uphill climb. In Schye's time at UM, he's spent time around some of the greatest linebackers to ever play for the Griz, like Brock Coyle and Jordan Tripp, and Kendrick Van Ackeren and the list goes on and on. And Still, Schye earned his way onto special teams and some playing time as a red-shirt freshman in 2014, even intercepting a pass for a touchdown.

However, with his special combination of power and speed, and his height, standing at almost 6-5, Schye, and the Grizzlies envisioned him as something more than a LB, and so, his sophomore season, he was moved to defensive end.

And yet, that was a crowded position too. Zach Wagenmann, Tyrone Holmes, Caleb Kidder and Ryan Johnson were all there, and that's a list of some of the most productive defensive ends in recent Griz history.

So once again, Schye had to wait his turn and earn his time.

But by his junior season, he was starting to turn heads, even with Kidder and Johnson as starters. Schye recorded 30 tackles, seven tackles for loss and a sack in a backup role in 2016, knowing that both Kidder and Johnson were leaving, and that, his role would be heavily increased for his fifth and final season at Montana.

"I set my standard for myself very high and I've worked very hard for what I want to achieve," he said. "Obviously there will be some more hype behind me this year, I guess, but as far as what I expect and the pressure I feel, I kind of have that cranked all the way up myself.

"Athletically Tucker is as good as there are in the Big Sky (Conference)," Griz defensive coordinator Jason Semore said. "I think if he played on a lot of other Big Sky teams he'd have been starting for a couple years by now."

No doubt. When Kidder handed the No. 37 off to Schye, he put the pressure on himself to perform. And he hasn't disappointed. Heading into the Cat-Griz game, Schye has 7 sacks, and 13.5 tackles for loss, which is second in the Big Sky. He also leads the Big Sky in forced fumbles and has been a wrecking machine for a Grizzly defense that may have gotten off to a rough start, but has come on strong over the last month.

Schye has also done his diligence as a leader of the Montana football team. He's done everything to not only produce, but to represent the Grizzlies, the 37 legacy and his hometown of Malta the right way. He's one of the most respected players in the Grizzly locker room, and, through his hard work, his determination to succeed, and his unselfishness over the years, simply, he's embodied everything the No. 37 stands for.

"I think his personality and how he carries himself, he's going to be humble about it and work his butt off," Semore said.

And the work has paid off. Schye is everything Semore and the Grizzlies were hoping for this season. And now, things have come full circle. Schye grew up loving the Grizzlies and the Cat-Griz game. Now, in his last Cat-Griz game of his career, he steps into Bobcat Stadium wearing the most highly-respected number on the Montana roster. For a kid from Malta, it doesn't get any better than that - minus one thing - a win over the Bobcats.

"Go out and take it," Schye said. "That's really what it's all about. It's something that you look forward to all year. It really comes down to who wants it more I think."


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