IW: As a coach and a father, were you pretty excited to send another son to Wisconsin?
Monty: Oh, you bet. There’s a special place in our heart for Wisconsin, especially after Pete had such a great experience there. We’re hoping that Joe will be able to do that as well. That doesn’t mean that he has to be the same kind of player Pete was, but if he goes and contributes, and works as hard as he can, we know that he’s going to have a great experience.
IW: Joe mentioned that he was a little surprised when Wisconsin initially offered him a scholarship. Did it surprise you?
Monty: Well I know that Joe is a little different kind of athlete than Pete. We struggled his junior year. Actually we didn’t struggle, we had a great year. Had we had him, we think we may have been able to compete favorably in the playoffs and maybe really do something. But he broke his leg his junior year and we lost him. His senior year, his senior class had maybe five or six really good athletes. We just didn’t have the other ingredients. It’s difficult to showcase some of the skills that those other kids had. I think Joe plays a real physical brand of ball. He’s a fierce hitter, and he’s going to be well-suited to play a five-technique defensive end which is what they project him to play. He’s played for us offensive center, defensive tackle, offensive guard, fullback, defensive end, linebacker and tight end. So he was kind of our solution to some of the problems we had when we were missing the kind of athlete we needed to fill a particular spot in our offense or defense. So he’s pretty versatile that way.
IW: Obviously Joe has been fortunate to have you as a coach his whole life and his older brother making it all the way to the NFL. But does that create too many expectations, for him to live up to that name?
Monty: Well one of the things that we had some concern about early on was the fact that, having to follow his brother at Wisconsin, where I think my son Pete has a certain amount of notoriety in Wisconsin, and the expectations would be that Joe is going to be a similar kind of player. So that was a concern. That was something that we addressed. We addressed it with the Wisconsin coaches, and they assured us that they weren’t recruiting Joe to be another Pete. They were recruiting Joe to be Joe, and that’s something that was real important to us. Everybody…even I sometimes say, `Boy, it’s a challenge to follow in your brother’s footsteps’ and he says right back to me, `I’m making my own footsteps. I’m going to do my own thing.’ So I think he has a sense of self, and he’s going to go and be as good a student as he can be and work to be the best athlete he can be and do everything he can to contribute to the success of the Wisconsin team. I think that’s all anyone can expect of him.
IW: What are some of the differences in Joe and Pete’s athleticism or style of play?
Monty: Joe is a bigger body. He’s maybe a half-inch taller than Pete, and at this same time of his development, he’s about 20-25 pounds heavier than Pete. His strength is comparable at this point in his career. He might be a little stronger than Pete was because he has a little more body mass. I think Pete was a little quicker starting. They both run well. Joe maybe is not as quick at the get go as Pete was. But I think schools out here, Wyoming and CSU, were recruiting Joe to be an offensive player because he’s got really good hands. He can catch the ball and that’s something Pete didn’t do as well. But he’s a physical player. They’re similar from that standpoint. He’s going to play a physical brand of game. He plays with a love and enthusiasm for the game, and I know my son Pete always appreciated having an opportunity to play alongside Tarek Saleh because they fed off each other. I think Joe’s going to feed off of those kinds of athletes, who play with a lot of enthusiasm and love to play, and get excited about what’s going on out on the field. Those are common traits.
IW: Is the greyshirt status a good thing for Joe’s development?
Monty: I guess that’s something that’s new, and I was uncertain at first. But Coach Horton and Coach Palermo both came in and did a nice job of explaining what kind of an opportunity it presents. The fact that not participating and only being a part-time student this first fall gives him an opportunity to have that last fall where he’s going to be more physically mature and have much greater experience. I finally looked at it from the point that, it gives him a chance to go through spring ball a year from now, and make up for having missed that junior season. He’s going to be coached by those coaches at Wisconsin that are going to help him develop his technique and understanding of the game. It will help him be a better performer in the long run. It gives him a chance to catch up, maybe. And academically, it’s just an unbelievable opportunity. We pay for a semester where he’ll be a part-time student, then that semester that he’ll get next winter puts him a semester ahead. So the academic advantages are really incredible.
IW: Millions of fathers dream of sending their son to play Division I football, and you’ve done it twice. What’s the secret to your success?
Monty: I believe it’s my wife. I think that coaches’ sons, and daughters for that matter, are almost obliged to be gym rats because they’re always around athletics. They grow up around it. I’ve been coaching for 33-34 years and Joe, in his 17 going on 18 years has been on the sidelines, at the practice fields, working out in the summer time when he was a little guy with the older athletes. And always, the great advantage of being a coach’s son is you always have an opportunity to model yourself after the very best athletes in a father’s program if he’s the coach. Joe and Pete both had a chance to see other great high school players that played for us. They saw their work ethic in the weight room, they saw the things they did in the summertime to prepare for a season. So they understand what has to be done to be successful.