During his time at Centreville High School, there wasn’t a season that Will Montgomery didn’t excel in sports. In the fall, Montgomery was a leader on the offensive and defensive line for the Wildcats football team. During the winter, he was a starting basketball player that finished second on the team in rebounds as a senior. During the spring, Montgomery helped lead the baseball team to a 15-8 record in his senior year. He was the only male at Centreville to play all four years of football, basketball, and baseball. During his senior year, Montgomery was named the 2001 Centreville Male Athlete of the Year.
"Will was a tough nut," said Centreville head football coach Mike Skinner. He was a hard worker, nice kid and a good student. He was all of the above."
Montgomery’s shining achievement during his time at high school came when he helped lead Skinner’s football team to the AAA Division 6 state championship.
"There were about five or six guys that played a big part in us winning the state championship," said Skinner. "But he made the big plays in the big games to help us win."
One play stands out in Skinner’s mind during the championship game against Deep Creek. Running back DeAngelo Hall, who now plays for the Atlanta Falcons, pounded through the line of scrimmage and began to break for the open field. Montgomery chased down Hall, who was slowed by the Wildcats’ defensive backs, and tackled him on the 15-yard line, saving a touchdown.
"Will ran sixty yards for that," said Skinner, explaining the lineman’s hustle.
That year, Will was named first-team All-District and All-Region.
"Those games in his senior year, starting with the region championship against Robinson were all thrilling," said Montgomery’s mother, Rose. "Those were the culmination of Will’s high school football experience."
IN THE WINTER, Montgomery started on the Wildcats basketball team that went 22-4 and won the Concorde District during his senior year. He scored a total of 151 points that year and pulled down 105 rebounds. In his final game, a 77-67 loss in the regional semifinals, Montgomery scored 20 points, going 9-for-10 from the floor.
Montgomery’s favorite sport, though, was baseball.
"The practices weren’t as stressful. You would just take some batting practice and hit a couple home runs. You weren’t dead tired afterwards," said Montgomery. "If I was as good at baseball as I was at football, I would probably be a baseball player. I kind of thrive at football, but I like playing all of the sports."
During college at Virginia Tech, the only sport on Montgomery’s mind was football. He redshirted his freshman year and played in four games during his second year on the team. He began to see serious playing time in his third year, playing in nine games and then started every game at center during his last two years as a Hokie. In his senior year, he was named to the first team All-Atlantic Coast Conference.
"During my junior year, I started to think that I could probably play in the NFL," said Will. "During my senior year is when agents started talking to me. I would look online and see the projections of where I’m ranked and all that stuff. The whole year, agents were talking to me."
PLAYING IN the NFL became a reality during this year’s NFL draft as Montgomery was selected in the seventh round by the Carolina Panthers and began training camp late last month.
"Right now, I’m battling for a spot on the active roster," he said. "I’m working in with the second and third-string teams. My goal is obviously to make the active roster."
The Carolina Panthers keep nine offensive linemen on the active roster while eight linemen are kept for the practice squad.
"I’m just working on my technique. In high school and college you could get by with poor technique because you were bigger and stronger than everybody, but at this level, everybody is fast and strong so I’m really honing in on my technique," he said. "If you don’t get those things done, then you’re not going to win many battles."
The Panthers’ next preseason game is against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Aug. 19. Before the Panthers’ season-opener against the Atlanta Falcons on Sept. 10, Montgomery will know if he made the active roster.
Will Montgomery is 26 in a survey of the area's Top 100 Athletes by Connection Newspapers in 2000.