J.J. Mont, Georgetown's senior quarterback, was not supposed to play last Saturday at Marist. The coaches wanted him to rest his ailing right shoulder, but the Hoyas fell behind 24-0.
At halftime, Mont begged Coach Bob Benson to put him in the game. Benson finally relented late in the third quarter.
Without much of a warmup, Mont engineered a 76-yard touchdown drive on his first series. Then, during Georgetown's next six series, he put together touchdown drives of 69 yards in one play, 99 yards in four plays, 81 yards in 11 plays and 45 yards in five plays, sending the game into overtime. In the extra period, Mont's seven-yard pass to Aaron Brown and Paul Wiorowski's extra-point kick gave the Hoyas a 41-40 victory.
Playing a little more than a quarter, Mont ended up completing 18 of 31 passes for 342 yards and four touchdowns to keep the Hoyas undefeated at 5-0. "What he did Saturday was the most remarkable thing I've seen in coaching," Benson said.
Mont has performed brilliantly this season, but few realize at what cost. He has completed 82 of 152 passes for 1,233 yards and 13 touchdowns despite significant pain in his throwing shoulder. The pain began the second-to-last day of spring practice. Mont had never had problems with his shoulder. He assumed it was something a little rest would cure and did not throw during the summer. But one week into fall practice, he started experiencing pain again.
A magnetic resonance imaging exam and other tests did not reveal any problem other than inflammation in the joint, but the pain persisted. To get this far in the season, he has relied on cortisone shots, pain medication, ice, electrical stimulation, rest and a new throwing motion. Mont has practiced with his teammates just twice since the season started. The only time he takes the field with them is on Saturdays. Otherwise, he stands on the sideline and watches.
"I miss practice so much," Mont said. "I like doing the team stuff. [When] I see all the players out there practicing, you really start to appreciate everything. I appreciate football more now."
When he first arrived at Georgetown from Hayfield High School, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Mont relied on his athletic ability to make plays. Now, his intellectual understanding of the game makes him even more effective. With quarterback coach Paul Litwinetz's help, Mont has gained a better grasp of defensive schemes and that has led to fewer interceptions. Last season, Mont threw 19 interceptions and 26 touchdown passes in 367 attempts; this season, he has thrown three interceptions and the 13 touchdown passes in 152 attempts.
"I watch myself on film and it's like there's nobody else out there," Mont said. "I'm just chillin'. It's so calm."
Although Mont is unhappy about not being able to practice, he seems far from despondent about his situation. His future remains bright even if it does not include football. This summer, he interned on Wall Street at Credit Suisse First Boston and has a standing job offer once football ends.
"Don't get me wrong, I'm having a great time," Mont said. "I'm just really happy that I can go out there and play. They can cut my arm off. I'll just learn to throw left-handed."