(Editor's note: University of Montana media release)
MISSOULA — When he was a kid growing up in Kalispell, Patrick Rohrbach used to fly model airplanes with his dad and dream of what it would be like to one day man the cockpit of a real fighter jet.
Now, the Montana freshman and reigning FCS Punter of the Year will take a step toward realizing that dream as he trades his football pads for a flight suit.
On Friday, Rohrbach announced he is transferring to Arizona State, not for football, but to join the "Flyin' Devils" of ASU's Air Force ROTC Detachment 025, one of the nation's top feeder programs into the U.S. Air Force Academy Flight School.
The goal: to one day serve the United States of America as an Air Force pilot.
"The dream is to be a fighter pilot in an F-16. That would be amazing, but it depends on what the Air Force needs. I'm going to have to keep my academics up and work hard, and hopefully I'll get that chance. I'm just excited to go serve." said Rohrbach.
Rohrbach will now leave Montana at the end of the semester after one of the best years ever by a Grizzly punter. In the fall he finished his first season of college football with the second-best punt average in program history at 45.2 yards on 48 attempts, a mark good enough to top the Big Sky Conference and land him No. 3 overall in the FCS.
He was also a catalyst for Montana's punt coverage team, which finished the year second in the FCS in net punt average at 41.52 yards per attempt, meaning the average punt return for UM's opponents is a mere 3.68 yards.
His absence on the roster now leaves the Griz in need of a punter, but for head coach Bobby Hauck, encouraging Rohrbach to pursue his dream of service was an easy decision.
"We admire all our people that serve in the military. Pat making the decision to go serve his country makes us very proud of him and proud he came out of our program," said Hauck. "I'm excited for him to start the next chapter of his life. It's a goal he's had for many years, so for him to move on and work to achieve that goal is both exciting and admirable."
Having already nearly obtained his private pilot's license, Rohrbach heads to Tempe, where he will complete a bachelor's degree in aeronautical management and communications while receiving real-world training at Luke Air Force Base in the ROTC.
That training is geared toward obtaining a highly-competitive pilot placement in flight school at the Academy in Colorado Springs.
And while he prepares to leave his home state to follow his dream, Rohrbach says the lessons he learned as a Grizzly will do nothing but help him along the way.
"From the bottom of my heart, I just want to thank the whole Montana football program," he said. "They gave me the dream opportunity to play football at a great school, and I'm so honored to have played with all the amazing guys on the team. Coach Hauck gave me the biggest opportunity, and I'll always cherish every bit of the coaching I received and the leadership skills I gained as a Grizzly."
It'll be the second year in a row that the Grizzlies need to replace the FCS Punter of the Year. Helena native Brian Buschini won the award as a freshman in 2021 before transferring to Nebraska.