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Jordan Johnson Returns to the Grizzlies

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MISSOULA -

The Montana Grizzlies entered the 2013 football season with high hopes, due in part to the return of quarterback Jordan Johnson.

Johnson rejoined the team this summer after a very public trial in which he was found not guilty of rape in March.

He was reinstated to the team several days later, and welcomed back by his coaches and teammates. They agree Johnson's return helped lead the Griz to a 10-2 regular season record, and earn a first-round bye to the FCS playoffs.

The Griz ended their season with a 42-35 loss to Coastal Carolina in the second round of the playoffs. But, Montana went 10-2 this season, a big step up from last year's 5-6 record.

Griz head coach Mick Delaney says Johnson's return and his 3,300 passing yards and 32 touchdown passes, played a big factor in that turnaround. "You know, Jordan just brings so much to the table as far as a football player and as a person."

Coach Delaney says even as a junior, Johnson took on a leadership role, evidenced by his teammates nominating him as captain in the spring.

Delaney moved into the head coach position in March 2012. That came after Coach Robin Pflugrad and Athletic Director Jim O'Day were let go after saying very similar things about Johnson as he was facing a rape charge. It was the final straw in a series of concerns about UM's mishandling sexual assault allegations.

Last spring, a 21-year-old woman reported Johnson raped her while they watched a movie in her room.

Johnson maintained the sex was consensual, and after 10 days of testimony, a jury decided the state could not prove Johnson committed the crime.

Johnson appealed his suspension from the team after he was acquitted.

The UM Athletic Conduct Team reinstated him, and Johnson was back on the field, bringing with him a strong, physical presence.

Johnson will start at quarterback for his senior year in 2014.

Johnson says, "Because these guys are my brothers, you know, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else, there aren't better people than there are here in Montana."

Back in May, the Department of Justice completed its investigations into the university and the Missoula Police Department.

UM is required to revise policies, provide training to staff and education to students on reporting and handling sexual assault.

Missoula police now have required training on handling sexual assault cases.

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