BUTTE, Mont. - Tommy Mellott is a hometown hero in the Mining City. The Butte High school graduate and starting quarterback for the Montana State Bobcats is just one win away from leading his team to the FCS championship, as the Cats play South Dakota State in Bozeman on Saturday. While Mellott's rise to stardom has been a surprise to many, the folks in Butte always knew how special he was.
Ray Ueland owns Metals Sports Bar & Grill, a popular dining spot in Uptown Butte, especially when the Cats are playing. An expert on all thing Butte and Montana State football-related, Ueland has high praise for Mellott.
"Not to crown him with a halo yet, but he's a local hero, no doubt," Ueland said. "I have a grandson that played with him way back in fourth grade, and even this, it was apparent that he was an exceptional athlete."
Elsewhere in town, there's Leo McCarthy, the founder of Mariah's Challenge, a scholarship for local students who can avoid underage drinking during their time in high school. Mellott just so happens to be one of those scholars.
"He's just one of those unique individuals who accepts the challenge, which is really hard to do in high school, but he stuck to it with the help of his parents," McCarthy said. "I got to read his speech that he didn't get to give to the Hillcrest sixth grade graduates [due to COVID]. That piece of information shows what his heart and soul are really about."
And of course, there are no better people in Butte to hear about Mellott from than his high school coach Arie Grey and Mellott's own mother Dina.
"The thing about Tommy is that he's just going to do his job," Grey said. "That's the number one thing, and in the process of that, people are going to fall in love with him. The attention to detail that he has, there's no player that we've ever had, at any position, that has done what he does."
"He loves the community and he loves the support," Dina Mellott said. "But it doesn't change who he is. He's always going to be the same person. And that's just kind of what makes him him. He's such a humble kid, and he'll always love Butte, and we're just proud of him."