MISSOULA — Montana senior kicker Adam Botkin is in his first and final season as a member of the football team.
When he arrived on campus as a freshman in 2018, the 6-foot-4 former Rocky Mountain College (Billings) basketball player was just a student. Four years later, he added “athlete” to the end of that tag, walking to his final year of eligibility.
With the team scheduled to travel to Fargo on Saturday afternoon for a second-round playoff game, its short college athletic career would end in defeat.
“It’s weird because I feel like I just started football and just started,” Botkin said. “But at the end of the day, there are so many opportunities because of what I just went through…I have a lot to look forward to after this.”
The Frenchtown native’s experience with the Griz football team helped him find his passion: social media.
In fact, social media has helped him get on the team and figure out what he wants to pursue as a career.
With the power of TikTok – a short-form video-sharing app that lets users create and share 15-second videos on any topic – Botkin has become the Grizzlies’ backup kicker.
During the COVID pandemic, he started posting videos for fun which caught the attention of some social media influencers. Before he knew it, he had a large following of what is now around 88.5 thousand people.
Much of his videos show him kicking in field goals or showing off his range – which includes a 71-yard mark – and that was enough for UM football coach Bobby Hauck.
“I contacted them and everything went well from there,” Botkin said. “I had already uploaded a lot of movies because of my social media stuff, so from there it was just a quick test.”
Now he wants to use this growing platform to give back to budding athletes who want to be in his shoes.
Despite limited action this season, Botkin is happy he was able to play and wants to help others achieve the same joy.
college without football
2018 was an admittedly strange time for Botkin. Originally set to go to Rocky and join the basketball and track programs, his freshman year started at UM. He gave up on his sporting decisions, unsure of what exactly he wanted.
He chose Montana because of his familiarity with it. And, as most college kids would prefer, it helped him save money.
“I’m basically from here…at 15 minutes, so it was an easy transition,” Botkin said. “Easy answer, live at home and save on rent. But no…my mom is from this area…all my cousins went here…it was a pretty easy decision.
Always wanting to play sports, Botkin eventually found her place with the women’s basketball team.
A guy who nearly scored a double-double himself with the Frenchtown High team, he became a practice player for the Lady Griz. He trained with them, participated in training exercises and ultimately helped to improve them.
It wasn’t an official sport, but Botkin was playing again.
“I just got a text from my high school coach one day in my freshman year and I think the head coach (for Lady Griz) contacted him to ask if he had any previous players going here” , Botkin said. “It looked like fun and one of my best friends did it with me, we both played together in Frenchtown so we both got to come and do it here…it was great fun and a great way to stay in shape.”
Over time, being an actual member of a college sports team became the priority. Watching local high school football made him want to play again. He finally knew what he wanted to do.
Thanks to social networks, he quenched his thirst to join a football team.
The power of social networks
Botkin never expected his just-for-fun videos to go viral. It just so happened that the right people saw them, liked them, and word spread. As of now, his most watched video has 8.2 million views.
He became something of a social media star, and it gave him an easy way to show off his abilities to the Griz football coaching staff. All of the videos he made for hobbies became essay films that landed him on the Montana roster.
It was then that he realized the potential of his platform for other kids in his position. If social media helped him achieve one of his dreams, it can help others, and that’s his calling.
“The whole point of my social media stuff is to impact kids who haven’t necessarily had a lot of recruiting opportunities after high school, much like me,” Botkin said. “To give them a platform to showcase their strengths…to guide them however I can…of all of this is the most important thing.”
He doesn’t want to make it a hobby or a side gig. He wants that to be what he does for a living.
These days, YouTubers and TikTokers are some of the most influential and wealthy people on the planet. There is a path to success on this path, and Botkin is on the right path.
“I want to expand on that, the social media stuff,” Botkin said. “It’s already becoming a career in itself. As long as I keep bringing this up, it’s not really about me, it’s about what I can create for kids to get them through their four years or guide them to get where they want to be .
Take on your role
While there is certainly some correlation between the Montana Grizzlies and Botkin via the internet at this point, the senior kicker doesn’t want it to be that way. Quite frankly because he doesn’t even really play.
“Guys making plays should be the face of Montana football, so I’m not trying to look like I’m trying to (be the face of Griz football),” Botkin said. “But I really try to give it positive attention whenever I can.”
Botkin just wants to do his part in promoting the program he grew up watching from the front row of the north end zone. To be anything other than that wouldn’t seem fair to him – he’s just happy to be here.
“I wasn’t playing at all last year or previous years, so just being able to be a part of something is the biggest part,” Botkin said. “Running out of that tunnel…it’s just a little surreal.” If I can help the team in any way I can, that’s all that matters.
His selflessness to the program — whether it was performing practice drills or cheering on his teammates from the sidelines — made his addition worthwhile for Hauck.
They are happy to have him around and hope to have him at least a week after Saturday’s heavyweight bout against North Dakota State University.
“He’s a great boy, he’s fun to have around,” Hauck said. “He ends up being a versatile guy in training and he’s doing a great job for us.”
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