Columbia Falls High School junior Austin Barth has verbally committed to play quarterback at Montana State University. He informed MSU head coach Rob Ash of his decision to accept a scholarship on Sunday.
Other high-level colleges have shown interest in Barth, including Ivy League schools, Michigan, Oregon State and the Bobcats’ cross-state rival in Missoula. On Monday, Barth said MSU is the best fit for him for several reasons, including the coaches and his family ties to Bozeman.
Barth’s grandparents live in Bozeman and his great uncle on his mother’s side is Jim Sweeney, a well-known coach who guided the Bobcats in the 1960s.
“It’s a great program and they’re just getting better and better,” Barth said. “It’s just exciting. I’m ready to play at a big school that a lot of people have respect for. They won the Big Sky (Conference) last year. They’re obviously an elite school.”
At 6-6 and 215 pounds with a strong arm, Barth has the body and tools to be a D-I quarterback. It’s clear he has also has the smarts for the job too. Barth maintains a 3.5 GPA and plans to study engineering at MSU, possibly biochemical engineering.
“The coaching staff was just real personable and they went above and beyond to look at his academic interest and academic direction,” Doug Barth, Austin’s father said. “That’s what swayed him is their interest in his academic goals.”
“We’re thrilled,” the proud father added.
Barth led Columbia Falls to the Northwestern A title this fall. The Wildcats lost to Miles City in the first round of the Class A state tournament. He was named all-state at linebacker and second team all-conference at quarterback.
Barth, who has also received college interest for basketball, is an all-around athlete who can partly thank good genes, along with a strong work ethic, for his prowess in sports.
His father Doug played defensive end at Montana Western from 1981-1984 and his mother Susie played volleyball at the same school. His older brother Tanner plays basketball at Dawson Community College in Glendive.
MSU’s current starting quarterback DeNarius McGhee was impressive as a redshirt freshman last fall. By the time Barth arrives in Bozeman, McGhee will be a junior and Barth plans to learn as much as he can from the talented upperclassman.
By committing so early, Barth said some pressure has been lifted off his senior year.
“I won’t have to stress out about getting a scholarship,” Barth said.
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