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Bobcat football player earns prestigious scholarship

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MSU Sports Information – In the life of most college students, Sunday afternoons in the fall are often times for rest and moments of fun. College football players use it to heal the body and switch gears in preparation for another week.

In Colin Hammock's life, it's something different.

"Sunday is the day when I usually get a lot of (academic work) done," said Montana State's junior offensive lineman. The Missoula Sentinel product has put his study time to good use, compiling a 3.96 grade point average. That work ethic and commitment to his schoolwork helped Hammock, who joined the Bobcat football program as a walk-on in the fall of 2015, earn a Cameron Presidential Scholarship from MSU's Honors College this spring.

Bobcat head football coach Jeff Choate calls Hammock "a very impressive young man," and says he's enjoyed watching things click into place during his time at MSU. "It's really ironic that Colin is coming into his own as a player at the same time that he's really figured out what the next step in his life is in terms of his academic journey and his professional journey after that. He represents the true meaning of student-athlete."

The Cameron Presidential Scholarships originated when long-time Montana State University supporters Nancy Cameron, her brother David and his wife Tanya, donated $4 million to the University to fund scholarships for incoming and continuing MSU students in the Honors College. Hammock is one of seven current students who will be joined by three incoming Presidential Scholars in receiving the initial Cameron Presidential Scholarships. The Cameron family originally homesteaded north of Great Falls more than 125 years ago, owning and operating the Dana Ranch near Cascade the last 75 years. David Cameron is a retired MSU faculty biologist and department head, while Nancy Cameron and Tanya Cameron graduated from MSU.

"Colin is truly an inspirational young man, who exemplifies excellence in all he does: whether on the playing field, in a classroom or lab, or working at an assisted living facility," said Dr. Ilse-Mari Lee, Dean of Honors College at Montana State. "An Eagle Scout, he is motivated to serve above all.  Even with all his accomplishments – which include selection as a National Merit and Montana University System Scholar – his humility shone through his personal interview. We are honored to have Colin among the outstanding students in the first cohort of Cameron Scholars."

Cameron Scholars are required to demonstrate excellence in academics, leadership, and community involvement. Hammock, checks all the boxes, working as a nurse aid at Hillcrest Retirement Community, and serving as the Vice President of MSU's Health Pre-Professional Society and as an officer in the Phi Kappa Phi academic honorary. He tutors MSU students in chemistry, physics and biology, and volunteered in the emergency room at Bozeman's hospital for a year. Hammock also replaces Mitch Herbert, like Hammock an aspiring physician, as football's representative on the MSU Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

Choate said Hammock has impacted many areas of the MSU campus community. "He's heavily involved in our Student-Athlete Advisory Committee as our representative from football, he's a strong voice for all the right things on our campus, and by the way, he's a pretty good football player. It's been awesome getting to know Colin and having him on our roster, and it's been even more rewarding to watch him flourish in this environment."

On a campus committed to encouraging undergraduate research, Hammock is studying the impact of social and psychological experiences on health with Dr. Neha John-Henderson and several MSU psychology students in MSU's Socioeconomic Adversity, Resilience and Health Lab. "He is extremely dedicated, always willing to help, and eager to acquire knowledge and experience that will be useful as he moves towards becoming a doctor," John-Henderson said.

Hammock arrived at MSU with 50 credit hours due to advanced work in high school, so he's in line to graduate from MSU this spring and begin working on a master's degree in health sciences in the fall. Hammock laughs at the idea of his schedule being "pretty full" between football, academic obligations and service activities, saying there's a factor many people don't consider. "It's easy to pack a lot into my schedule because I enjoy what I'm doing with my time," he said. "Football and exercise are great ways to relieve stress, and it's easy to push myself after seeing what people in front of me have accomplished and seeing the standards they set for themselves."

The cell biology and neuroscience major also says that football offers an organizational element he finds helpful. "I feel like football actually helps structure things for me, getting up early in the morning and getting (practice) done wakes me up for classes. It can get a little crazy, but football helps."

As a reserve offensive lineman, Hammock has become a versatile player contributing on special teams and practicing at numerous positions. "He's kind of a jack-of-all-trades, can play guard or tackle," said second-year offensive line coach Joshua Taufalele, who cites Hammock's intelligence as an aid in picking up the nuances of a couple of different positions. "He essentially plays four different positions for us, both positions on the left side, both positions on the right side, so we can plug him in there and know that he'll get it done."

Choate appreciates Hammock's role as a utility lineman. "He can play either guard or tackle on either side, he's a contributor on special teams, and he's on the two-deep and has been for a couple years," he said. "He's a guy we rely on a lot."

While laughing that Hammock "thinks his bench press" is his greatest asset, Taufalele admits that strength has become an important part of his game. "He's a strong kid for his size and he got after it in the weight room this winter," Taufalele said. "He's done a tremendous job with (MSU Strength) Coach (Alex) Willcox. He still needs to get better, but he's progressing. He's progressed a lot since I've been here and he'll continue to progress."

With grad school on the docket in the fall and medical school – "I guess I'm following Mitch Herbert's footsteps," he says of his teammate who heads down that road in the next year or so – on the distant horizon, Hammock's current focus is in MSU's spring drills and contributing next fall. "I've been getting bigger, getting stronger, gaining more experience," he said.

The physical improvements have brought more playing time – he played in three games as an offensive lineman last fall, and saw considerable action on special teams. And he shares the feeling held by Choate and Taufalele that his time for greater contributions is near. "The more time you spend on the field the more comfortable you get," he said with a smile. "We practice against some of the best (defensive linemen) in the Big Sky every day, so I know I can handle the guys in our conference."

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