Tavian Montgomery has played in front of many spectators throughout the course of his young football career, but one in particular seems to stand out.
On most Friday nights during the high school season, tucked away in the rural setting of Ruby Field, sits his father, Wilbert Montgomery.
The elder Montgomery describes himself as “truly a spectator” while watching his son, just like any other parent would, but he’s likely paying attention to more than the average eye.
There’s a good chance Montgomery’s football knowledge trumps more than all of those in attendance — and he’s got the background to prove it.
A 26-year veteran at the professional level as both a player and coach, Montgomery was selected in the sixth round of the 1977 NFL draft by the Philadelphia Eagles out of Abilene Christian University.
He’s a member of the College Football Hall of Fame and an inaugural inductee into the Eagles’ Hall of Fame. Montgomery is the franchise’s second leading rusher with 6,538 yards, according to Pro Football Reference, only behind LeSean McCoy.
He earned All-Pro honors in 1978 and 1979.
“There’s some things that I know he sees that other people can’t see,” Tavian Montgomery said. “He’s been doing it for so long, it just means a lot to me for him to critique me and to tell me to do this or that. It’s helped improve my game. He’s probably my best friend and my biggest critic.”
Wilbert Montgomery transitioned to the coaching ranks following his retirement, beginning his career as a running backs/tight ends coach for the St. Louis Rams from 1997-2005. He then coached for the Detroit Lions (2006-07), Baltimore Ravens (2008-13), and Cleveland Browns (2014-15).
Tavian Montgomery said he was always around his father growing up, and spending time with NFL talent was one of the best experiences of his life. Having mentors such as former Ravens defensive back Lardarius Webb offered valuable lessons on and off the field.
Since transferring to Westminster from Century High School at the beginning of his junior year, Tavian has become one of the Owls’ top weapons.
Listed as a skill player on the roster, Montgomery has been a threat on both sides of the ball. He leads the team with 432 receiving yards and six touchdowns, along with a county-best seven interceptions as a defensive back.
With success on the field has come the opportunity to follow in his father’s footsteps and play at the next level. Montgomery said he holds scholarship offers from Bowling Green University, and his father’s alma mater — a true honor in his eyes.
“That was probably the highest point of my football career,” Tavian Montgomery said on receiving an offer from Abilene. “I never even thought about it, but for Abilene to put their trust in me and think of me as possibly the next Wilbert Montgomery was just amazing.”
With a relationship predicated heavily around football, Wilbert Montgomery said he wants more than just success on the athletic field for his children. He strives to be a father and a friend, something he said he seldom had while growing up.
“When we sit in the house … We talk in a respectful way but we always own each other about, ‘You don’t know anything,’ or just that fun type of energy,” Wilbert Montgomery said. “I think it’s very important because I didn’t have that when I was a young man growing up … so I kind of lost that relationship, that closeness.
Tavian Montgomery said he understands he’s attached to his father’s accomplishments. Being in close proximity from Philadelphia, it’s almost unavoidable. Die-hard Eagles fans admire his father, but the younger Montgomery doesn’t consider it a negative.