A year and a half ago Koni Dole’s life — let alone his football future — took a devastating turn when an on-field injury forced the amputation of his right leg just below the knee.
Monday afternoon, Dole continued one of the great comeback stories not just in Montana, but anywhere in prep sports by earning a preferred walk-on spot with the Montana State Bobcats to play football next fall.
Dole, a two-way player for Class B Huntley Project, suffered a nasty compound fraction in the final game of Huntley’s regular season in 2012 when Dole was a junior. He’d be back wrestling for the Red Devils before the end of that school year though and was back on the football field with the aid of a prosthetic the next fall.
His story and his performance continued to impress MSU football coach Rob Ash, who’d had the Huntley Project player on his radar before his battle to get back started grabbing headlines.
“Koni Dole is probably one of the toughest and most courageous young men that I’ve ever known,” Ash said Monday when the Cats announced five walk-on players to wrap up their offseason recruiting.
“But I want to point out we’re offering him this spot not out of any feeling good or sympathy or anything like that. He’s a good player. He came to our camp last June and performed extremely well. He’s incredibly strong, very tough. A great weight room guy, an extremely instinctive player.”
Dole committed to the Cats last fall but the school didn’t announce his status with the football program until this week.
As a preferred walk-on, Dole will compete for a roster spot at Montana State and one of the coveted athletic scholarships for the future.