In a time when interaction on social media is as much a part of an average teenager’s day-to-day life as breathing, Isaiah Montanez remained an exception.
The Golden Valley High School sophomore managed to avoid the allure of Twitter and kept a pretty bare-bones Facebook page, choosing instead to focus on school and football.
Still, exceptions can be made when a viral video of you leaving a linebacker in a heap after a sweet move is making the rounds on the Internet, including ESPN.com.
“Monday, I started getting texts and phone calls from people saying I was all over the Internet,” Montanez said. “When someone said I was on ESPN, I figured I should probably create a Twitter account and see what everybody was saying.
“It’s been a wild couple days. I’m just grateful for the reaction I’ve received from people at school and the nice things people in the scouting community have said on Twitter about the video. I’m just a kid from the Valley. It’s not something I ever expected to happen to me.”
The video in question was filmed at a Nike Regional Combine last weekend at Burrell Field at the Pacific Athletic Complex in San Leandro. Montanez was participating in a one-on-one drill between the running backs and linebackers. The goal was to get past the defender and into the end zone.
Montanez gives a couple stutter steps, a hard head fake and then spins right as his opponent helplessly crumples to the turf. Montanez follows up with a celebratory back flip that sends his fellow combine participants into a frenzy.
“There was a lot of pressure on me because I was the last one to go, and the loser’s side had to do pushups,” Montanez said. “I’d never done a move like that before, except maybe just messing around my house, but I felt like all eyes were on me and I had to go big. I do a lot of ladders and agility drills so I can pull off moves like that. The back flip was more about having my blood pumping and getting kind of caught up in the moment.
“One of the guys that shot it showed me the video later that day, and I thought it was cool, but I didn’t think much more about it.”
Matthew McCreary of Scout.com helped get the viral ball rolling, doing a little story on the video and putting it on Twitter. It didn’t take long for Montanez to become an Internet sensation, even having it tweeted as a SportsCenter top-10 nominee.
As much as Montanez has enjoyed the moment, he’s keeping things in perspective. He led the Cougars with 495 rushing yards on 96 carries as a sophomore, but with Golden Valley posting a winless season, not many outside the area had heard of him. That’s not the case anymore.
“The best part about all of this is that my name is out there with all these different scout sites,” Montanez said. “It’s an opportunity for me. If I can continue to work hard and have a good season, maybe some four-year schools show some interest.
“It’s fun, but I know I need to stay humble. It’s up to me to build on this.”
Sean Lynch: (209) 385-2476