Scranton Prep football coach Terry Gallagher knew about Penn State’s latest running back commit before he started coaching him.
Like many young football players, London Montgomery dominated through the middle school ranks and had a reputation as a rising star when Gallagher first saw him playing for the North Scranton Junior Vikings as an eighth grader.
As a freshman, Montgomery enrolled at Scranton Prep High School and began playing for Gallagher and looking to prove himself on Friday nights.
At roughly 140 pounds, Montgomery was fast and talented enough to start at running back from day one but who knew how he’d handle being a key freshman on a veteran-heavy squad.
It wouldn’t take long to find out.
“He had no hesitation,” Gallagher told Nittany Sports Now. “He went in there, he competed. That’s what he does.”
His first high school carry– against Dunmore High School in the 2019 season opener– went for 41 yards.
London Montgomery had arrived, and he’s only gotten better in the two years since.
Montgomery finished his freshman season with 806 yards and nine touchdowns on 141 carries in nine games.
The next season, in an abbreviated, five-game, COVID-19-themed season, Montgomery picked up 868 yards and scored 13 total touchdowns, improving from his freshman campaign.
In 2021, Montgomery put up video-game numbers; 2,356 yards and 36 touchdowns on 194 carries.
140 pounds to 195 pounds. He’s developed his skills in blocking and receiving, and he’s earned the chance to play football at one of the country’s biggest programs, committing to Penn State this past Monday.
Gallagher loves his star running back.
“I can talk about him all day,” he said.
On the field, Montgomery is eclectic. He’s fast. He’s not afraid of contact, and he has the ability, in Gallagher’s words, to “stop on a dime, cut, and accelerate without losing speed.”
Off the field, however, is where Montgomery impresses his head coach the most.
“Not only is he extraordinarily talented, but he’s also one of those kids that’s extraordinarily humble,” Gallagher said. “He holds himself accountable. He’s hardworking. He does all the things the right way, and he’s super competitive.”
When Montgomery began to get Power Five offers toward the end of his junior season, Gallagher didn’t notice Montgomery’s proverbial head size increasing.
“He’s a really, really humble kid,” Gallagher said. “Even throughout the whole process, he’s getting all of these different scholarships (offers), over 30 scholarships or whatever it is, he’s still one of those kids that I think truly appreciates it and doesn’t take it for granted at all.”
Montgomery’s off-the-field demeanor– something Gallagher credits to his family upbringing– is something that shows up behind the scenes in football as well.
Montgomery was named captain by his teammates as a junior, despite it being another senior-heavy squad. Gallagher attributes this to the extra things that Montgomery is willing to do for his teammates and the program.
Once named team captain, Gallagher said Montgomery became a more vocal leader while continuing to be himself.
“He just does little things that people don’t even see in terms of checking in on some of the younger guys, making sure guys are ok, little small stuff, little small conversations,” Gallagher said. “He’s not one of those guys who makes it all about him by any means.”
Indeed, Gallagher is impressed by things Montgomery does away from the crowds and the cameras.
Of course, what he does Friday nights is impressive, as well.
Gallagher remembers one, in particular, that was jaw-dropping.
It happened against Scranton High School in the second game of the 2021 season.
Scranton Prep led, 21-14, with less than a minute to play in the first half.
Scranton had the ball at its 25-yard line, and Montgomery got the carry.
Initially, it looked like he was going to run out of bounds.
But Montgomery decided to score a touchdown instead.
“As he’s going toward the sideline, we’re assuming he’s possibly going to go outside, he decides to spin back in from the sideline and make a kid miss, and then just accelerates to the endzone,” Gallagher said.
All Gallagher and the coaching staff could do was look at each other in amazement.
“You have to appreciate things like that, it doesn’t happen all the time.”
There have been plenty of other highlight-reel runs, such as this one below.
“It’s fun for me to watch,” Gallagher said. “I have no idea how he does it sometimes.”
Gallagher feels “very fortunate” to be a part of Montgomery’s life as his coach.
One of his favorite memories of Montgomery happened in that same Scranton game in the second half, after Montgomery’s jaw-dropping run.
Montgomery had more than 380 yards with roughly eight minutes left in the third quarter and needed 17 to break the single-game conference record.
Scranton Prep had the game well in hand, and was going to win regardless of whether Montgomery played or not.
But most people would have blamed Montgomery for wanting to stay in and break the record nor Gallagher for leaving him in.
Instead, Montgomery told Gallagher, as he remembers.
“Coach, I proved my point. I’ll come out. I don’t care about records, I’ll cheer on the youngest guys.”
For Gallagher, this story illustrates the type of player and person Penn State fans will be getting to know.
“They picked up an exceptional football player, an exceptional person and a worker. Pennsylvania is kind of a blue-collar state where people want people to work, he’s a guy who’s going to work regardless of what happens. He’s going to continue to work, he’s going to work real hard. He’s going to do the best he can to be great, and I think that’s going to be great not only for him but also for the football program.”
“They got a great one.”