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Tripp to wear No. 37 for Griz
Montana junior Jordan Tripp will wear the iconic No. 37 jersey when the Griz return to the gridiron this fall. The Missoula Big Sky graduate was picked by former wearer Ryan Fetherston to carry on the tradition.
Missoula Big Sky graduate Jordan Tripp will carry on the No. 37 tradition for the University of Montana football team.
Last year’s bearer of that number, senior defensive end Ryan Fetherston from East Helena, chose Tripp as his successor to wear the legacy jersey. Tripp becomes the 10th player in school history to wear the storied number.
Griz interim head coach Mick Delaney made the announcement Monday afternoon at a team meeting, when several UM players returned to Missoula to begin a voluntary summer workout program.
Tripp, a 6-foot-3 1/2-inch, 244-pound linebacker, was injured against Eastern Washington in the third game of the 2011 season. He was one of the leading tacklers in the first three games, with 18 stops. He played as a true freshman three years ago, which means he had a redshirt season available, and was granted an injury redshirt this past spring. He will be a junior this season.
The third-generation Grizzly football player wore the number 44 the previous two-plus seasons in honor of his dad, Bryan, who was a starting linebacker at Montana in 1989-90. His grandfather Gene (Junior) Tripp was an offensive lineman and lettered at UM in 1963-64.
“It was a really tough decision,” Jordan Tripp said. “Growing up, 44 was the only number I’ve worn since fifth grade and Little Griz football and playing for Napa (Auto Parts). I came in (to UM) and was fortunate enough to get 44 and wear it for a couple of years, and then I got the call from Ryan Fetherston, who wore 37.”
“I’d always had that thought in the back of my mind that I might get it and I might not; and I didn’t know if I could take it or not because my dad was number 44,” Tripp said. “But when he (Fetherston) offered me that number there was no question whether I would take it or not.”
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The tradition started in 1987, when fullback Kraig Paulson, who wore the number from 1983-86, passed it on to defensive back Tim Hauck.
Hauck, now the Cleveland Browns’ defensive backs coach, was a two-time All-American at safety while playing for the Griz and then went on to have a 12-year career in the NFL.
“It’s a great honor just looking at some of the guys who have played with that number before,” Tripp said. “I mean Tim Hauck, Jason Crebo – just look at those names alone. And coach Kraig Paulson. Those are the type of guys who make this university and our football program as great as it is. To live up to that means a lot, and to have someone ask you to wear that number also means a lot. I have a lot of work to do, but I am very happy to wear it.”
As a sophomore in 2010, Tripp started all 11 games and was the team’s second leading tackler with 99 stops, ranked 50th in the nation with 9.0 tackles a game, and was a Big Sky Conference honorable mention selection. He was also an all-league academic pick, with a 3.44 GPA in business.
“To wear number 37 was an honor for me,” said Fetherston, who was one of UM’s leading tacklers last season with 47 stops, including 8.5 for losses, and was an honorable mention All-Big Sky pick as a senior. “There are so many other great players who wore No. 37 who I watched. To get to wear that number my senior year, and for how well our season went and how well we did as a football team in winning the Big Sky and getting to the (FCS) semis – you couldn’t asked for very much more except for maybe winning the national championship.”
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Fetherston, who has already begun his duties as the head football coach at Conrad High School and will begin teaching American history and world cultures to sixth- and seventh-graders at Utterback Middle School in Conrad this fall, said Tripp is an excellent representative for UM and the Grizzly football program on and off the field.
“When you talk about Jordan Tripp, it’s not only just football – it’s the classroom and the community,” Fetherston said. “He does his part in everything he can get involved in and he helps everyone that he can. When you talk about wearing the number 37, it’s not just playing the game, it’s what you do in the community and the classroom, and how you present yourself in front of others. I think that Jordan Tripp basically defines everything that 37’s looking for and more.”
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Since the tradition started in the 1980s, the 37 jersey has been handed down from one in-state recruit to another – always to somebody who met the proper standards, of course.
“I think this is probably as good a choice that’s ever been made for number 37, and there’s been some outstanding young men who have worn that number,” Delaney said. “He is the epitome of Montana football. He’s a local kid and a third-generation player. It doesn’t get any better than that. It made our meeting this afternoon when we presented Jordie to the team as our number 37 legacy for the 2012 and ’13 season.
“It says a lot about Jordan as a team guy,” Delaney said. “Wearing a family number (44) – those don’t come along very often. He understands the tradition and the history of the University of Montana football. He’s been watching 37s for the last 18 years or so. He’s been coming to games here since he was probably at least one or two years old with his mom (Lisa) and dad and grandpa – so this means a lot to him.”