Callum Montgomery’s road to the University of North Carolina at Charlotte was circuitous.
After sending out a flood of emails to universities, the defender from Lantzville, B.C., didn’t get much of a response other than local U.S. options like the University of Washington and Seattle University.
While he impressed at a Stanford University ID camp, his grades weren’t good enough. But a connection was made.
Stanford coach Jeremy Gunn, a former UNC-Charlotte coach, referred Montgomery to Charlotte coach Kevin Langan, who had been an assistant under Gunn. That led to a UNC-Charlotte camp and a subsequent scholarship offer.
It proved to be a good fit.
“I’ve loved it,” Montgomery said of his time at UNC-Charlotte.
Montgomery is expected to be one of several Canadians to figure prominently in Friday’s MLS SuperDraft in Chicago.
As a left-footed centre back, Montgomery is an attractive option. And thanks to a 2016 MLS rule change, he is considered a domestic player south of the border because of his length of service with a Canadian-approved youth club on Vancouver Island (he spent time with both the Victoria Highlanders and Vancouver Island Wave).
The six-foot-three defender played 73 games for UNC-Charlotte and, as a senior, was named Conference USA defensive player of the year, a first team all-American and was a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy awarded to the NCAA player of the year.
UNC-Charlotte (14-5-2) recorded 13 shutouts in 2018, including 10 at Transamerica Field. During one stretch of the season, the 49ers went more than 1,000 minutes without conceding a goal.
Montgomery points to the players around him, citing midfielder Tommy Madden and forward Daniel Bruce as well as his fellow defenders.
“It was the right time for everybody,” he said.
A former central midfielder, Montgomery was moved to the backline in college by Langan, who played six seasons for Bristol City in England.
“He knew right away that I was going to be a centre back,” said Montgomery. “He was a centre back himself and he’s an unbelievable coach.
“Really I wouldn’t be the player I am today without him. Just the little things he can tell you about centre back.”
A three-time academic All-American, Montgomery has completed his biology degree.
While Montgomery grew up in Lantzville, he moved to Victoria to finish high school at St. Michaels University School.