(Editor’s note: Montana State University media release)

BOZEMAN – The message is equal parts to Montana State’s 2018 February football recruiting class, and about it.

“For us,” said Montana State Head Football Coach Jeff Choate, “the future is now.”

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The Bobcats reeled in 12 student-athletes on Wednesday, the first day in 2018 that most players could make a binding commitment to a Division I football program. That group includes 11 high school student-athletes plus a junior college cornerback who the coaches expect to compete for playing time immediately. It also features players from familiar MSU recruiting territories – two from Montana and four from California, but also one each from Texas and Colorado, and four from Washington.

This year’s recruiting class includes the Alaska (Derryk Snell) and Washington (Isaiah Ifanse) Gatorade Players of the Year. They join previous Gatorade honorees signed by Choate – Coy Steel of Wyoming and Balue Chapman of Montana. In addition, the Bobcat program has produced the last two Big Sky Freshman of the Year honorees, Chris Murray in 2016 and Troy Andersen in 2018.

Choate said that Bobcat coaches sold the notion that the last two seasons have marked Montana State’s transition back to championship contender.

“One of the ideas we sold in this recruiting cycle is that we’re no longer in the building phase,” he said. “We’re in the compete-for-a-championship phase. That resonated with a lot of these young men and their families. The hard work and the heavy lifting have been done. They can come in and either develop into tremendous members of our campus community and our football program, or be the missing piece for us to take the next step.”

A strong Bobcat recruiting presence in Washington is something Choate and his staff have emphasized, and this recruiting cycle has marked that development.

“I think one of the things you notice about this class is that we signed five kids from the state of Washington, and that was an objective for us, breaking into the I-5 corridor,” he said. “I think we have a strong foothold there, not just by getting players but by getting exceptional players and student-athletes that fit our culture here at Montana State.”

The first-ever December high school signing period changed the dynamic of the past month, Choate said.

“It’s interesting how this recruiting cycle became much more competitive in a lot of ways than the December signing period,” he explained. “There were a lot of people fighting over the same guys, so it was a very competitive recruiting cycle. We ran into some of our Big Sky opponents, the University of Idaho and Eastern Washington primarily, and fared very well.”

Choate expressed excitement over this year’s recruiting class: “Between the transfers and some of these young men that sign today, we have (first-year players) that will help us win games in the fall. With the foundation that’s currently laid here I think it’s an exciting time to be part of this football program.”

February Signees

Blake Allred, FB 5-11 200 Fr Billings, MT (Senior)
Ryan Barkley, OL 6-5 275 Fr Durango, CO (Durango)
Seer Deines, DL 6-3 270 Fr Connell, WA (Connell)
Koby Duru, WR 6-2 195 Fr La Puente, CA (Bishop Amat)
Greg Filer III, CB 6-0 170 Jr Compton, CA (Compton College)
Isaiah Ifanse, RB 5-10 190 Fr Bellevue, WA (Bellevue)
Donny Long, OL 6-3 280 Fr Norco, CA (Norco)
Mekhi Metcalf, WR 6-4 180 Fr Seattle, WA (Garfield)
Treyton Pickering, TE 6-4 220 Fr Sunburst, MT (Sunburst)
Malik Putney, S 6-0 200 Fr Tacoma, WA (Eastside Catholic)
Sherod White, TB 5-10 175 Fr Menifee, CA (Heritage)
James Williams, NT 5-10 305 Fr Aledo, TX (Aledo)
*-Confirmed intent to attend as preferred walk-on by signing admissions acceptance

High School – Montana – December

Nolan Askelson, LB 6-1 205 Fr Billings, MT Senior
*Jory Choate, LB 6-2 185 Fr Bozeman, MT Bozeman
Mark Estes, WR 6-1 180 Fr Kalispell, MT Glacier
Logan Kleinhans, WR 6-1 195 Fr Bozeman, MT Bozeman
Joe McElroy, OL 6-5 255 Fr Missoula, MT Loyola
Lane Sumner, RB 5-8 183 Fr Huntley, MT Huntley Project
Kaleb Winterburn, DB 6-2 190 Fr Helena, MT Helena
*-Confirmed intent to attend by signing admissions acceptance

High School – Out-of-State – December

Casey Bauman, QB 6-6 225 Fr Somas, WA Nooksack Valley
Justin Cauley, RB 5-9 195 Fr Venice, CA Venice
Ty’Rese Gibson, DB 6-0 165 Fr Lawndale, CA Paramount
Ty’Rhae Gibson, DB 6-0 165 Fr Lawndale, CA Paramount
Derryk Snell, TE 6-2 235 Fr Anchorage, AK Chugiak

Transfers – December

Tristan Bailey, K 6-1 215 Jr Colo. Springs, CO Rampart Coffeyville/Wyoming
Travis Jonsen, QB 6-4 210 Jr Fullerton, CA Servite Riverside CC/Oregon
Tyler Natee, RB 6-1 260 So Euless, TX Trinity Indiana
Bryce Sterk, DL 6-5 250 Jr Lynden, WA Lynden Washington

FEBRUARY SIGNEES

Blake Allred, FB
5-11, 200, Fr, Billings, MT (Senior)
Player Notes: Earned Class AA All-State 1st Team honrs as a linebacker and 2nd team plaudits as a fullback… All-USA Today Montana Football 2nd Team choice at linebacker… selected for the Montana Shrine Game, and played on a two-time state title team at Senior. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Blake was a really crucial and versatile member of the Billings Senior back-to-back state championship run, a guy that played linebacker and fullback. He’ll start on the offensive side of the ball here because he really fits what we’re doing and our commitment to the run game. He’s a guy that I think is a great fit for the Bobcats.” Parents: Zach and Darby HS coach: Chris Murdock

Ryan Barkley, OL
6-5, 275, Fr, Durango, CO (Durango)
Player Notes: Named Max Prep All-State Second Team… lettered in football and lacrosse at Durango… helped lead his squad to the state quarterfinals. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “(Ryan is) a young man that comes to us from Durango, Colorado, and is a great piece of clay. he’s 6-4, around 270 lbs, and I feel like he’s a guy who really fits Montana State. He’s the right fit academically and I think he’ll come in and provide depth on the offensive line. I’m very excited about Ryan and I’m glad he’s part of this program.” Parents: Jillian and Bill Barkley HS coach: Dave Vogt

Seer Deines, DL
6-3, 270, Fr, Connell, WA (Connell)
Player Notes: Earned 2017 All-Area team in the Tri-Cities… helped lead Connell to the state playoffs as a senior… nominated to USA Today All-State team… sll-state in the shot put. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Seer is a guy who came to our camp and really stood out. Coach (Byron) Hout locked into him and did a great job of continuing to recruit him. He had a great official visit and was recruited by Eastern Washington, but stuck with the Bobcats. I feel like he’s a guy who will provide depth and competition as an interior defensive lineman.” Parents: Justine Pherigo, Chad Deines HS coach: Wayne Riner

Koby Duru, WR
6-2, 195, Fr, La Puente, CA (Bishop Amat)
Player Notes: Two-year varsity letterwinner at Bishop Amat… two-star recruit, helped lead his squad to the state playoffs… caught 23 passes for 370 yards and six touchdowns as a senior. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Koby’s another Trinity League kid. A former player of ours at Boise State’s wife is the athletic academic coordinator at Bishop Amat, and she sent us an email saying she thought people were missing on this kid. I turned the film on and it was clear he’s a very dynamic athlete, has not played a ton of football but has produced very well. He has excellent speed, a very good catch radius, is a strong kid, and I think will have an impact for us on the vertical passing game, in particular.” Parents: Iseoma and Chika Duru HS coach: Steve Hagerty

Greg Filer III, CB
6-0, 170, Jr, Compton, CA (Compton College)
Player Notes: Unanimous All-American Metro League 1st Team and All-California Region IV 1st team choice… picked off five passes at Compton, with 39 tackles and a forced fumble.From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Greg comes from Compton Community College and played his high school football at Paramount, where the Gibson brothers (early MSU signees Ty’Rese and Ty’Rhae) are from, and he came onto our radar as having the ability to feel a need at corner. Six-foot corners don’t grow on trees, he has excellent top-end speed, he comes from a system where he played a lot of man-to-man and you can see his skills there. He can play press, he can play off, he has good recovery speed. He’s a half-brother of John Ross who played for us at Washington, so there’s a connection there. He’s another guy who’s a really good fit, he has his head screwed on straight, and we’re hoping he’ll come in and compete for playing time immediately at corner.” Parents: Dana Mitchell, Gregory Filer II HS coach: Broderick Jackson

Isaiah Ifanse, RB
5-10, 190, Fr, Bellevue, WA (Bellevue)
Player Notes: Washington’s 2017 Gatorade Player of the Year… a three-star recruit who led his squad to the state semifinals… rushed for 2,485 yards as a senior, with 44 touchdowns… also logged 35 tackles. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Isaiah all the way around is the right cat. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Washington, and one of the more productive running backs in a long line of productive running backs at Bellevue High School. He has great vision and balance, excellent top end (speed), he’s a high-character young man, and I feel like with the amount of times we hand the ball off in our offense we can’t have enough quality running backs. I believe he has a bright future here.” Parents: Jennifer HS coach: Mark Landes, Rich Brown

Donny Long, OL
6-3, 280, Fr, Norco, CA (Norco)
Player Notes: A First Team All-Big 8 lineman who helped lead Norco to the state quarterfinals… two-year starter with 86 pancake blocks… voted Norco’s offensive MVP by his teammates. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Donny is from a great high school program, and he’s an excellent athlete. He played basketball, he can dunk it, he’s got a lot of upside. He’s very physical, he shows his willingness to block in a variety of different settings. He’s an excellent run blocker but he’s also athletic and light on his feet, he can be a pass blocker, he pulls. I think he fits into our scheme very well. He can plug in at the guard position immediately, and he can snap, so that adds value to him as a guy that could potentially play center. He was recruited by Arizona State down the stretch but he stuck to his commitment with us and we’re very excited about his future.” Parents: Debbie & Larry HS coach: Charles Chastain

Mekhi Metcalf, WR
6-4, 180, Fr, Seattle, WA (Garfield)
Player Notes: A three-star recruit at Garfield, where he starred in football and basketball..played football for Bobcat great Joey Thomas… helped lead his team to the state semifinals in 2017… caught 78 passes for 1,038 yards and five touchdowns in his career. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “A long, rangy receiver, we see Mekhi in the mold of a Jabarri Johnson type of body, a Mitch Herbert type of body, a long athletic guy with a tremendous catch radius. He lined up opposite the Washington player of the year so he maybe didn’t get as many targets as he’d like, but he’s a guy who’s just scratching the surface. I feel like he’s a steal, his best football is definitely in front of him, and he comes from great bloodlines, with both his father and his grandfather (Terry) playing NFL football.” Parents: Laurie & Eric Metcalf HS coach: Bobcat legend Joey Thomas

Treyton Pickering, TE
6-4, 220, Fr, Sunburst, MT (Sunburst)
Player Notes: Earned Class C 6-Man 1st Team All-State honors, and was named to the Great Falls Tribune Superstate squad…. chosen for the Montana Shrine Game and the MonDak all-star game… a Six-Man All-Star Game choice, and a 2017 Class C All-State pick in hoops. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Treyton Pickering is a kid who played six-man football, came to our camp, has been on our radar for a long time. I think BJ Robertson did a great job developing a relationship with this young man. He’ll continue to mature and grow and I think he’ll fit in and be a developmental tight end for us. We’re excited about his future. He is one of those Montana kids that is a great fit in terms of what he wants to do academically and his ability to fit into our campus community and add value to our football roster.” Parents: Janae & Taylor Pickering HS coach: Dean Lerum

Malik Putney, S
6-0, 200, Fr, Tacoma, WA (Eastside Catholic)
Player Notes: A consensus three-star recruit with 12 career interceptions, returning one 100 yards for a touchdown… returned eight punts for touchdowns as a senior… four-year starter at Eastside Catholic for former Bobcat assistant Jeremy Thielbahr, where his teams lost just three games… three-time Metro League champions with a pair of Class 3A Washington State titles. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Malik Putney is kind of an alpha dog, I really like this kid. He loves football. He’s from a very good, productive high school program at Eastside Catholic, where he played for former Bobcat assistant Jeremy Thielbahr. He’s a guy with a high, high football IQ, tremendous vision, sees the field very well, has great instincts, is physical, dynamic when he has the ball in his hands whether it’s as a running back or a punt returner, and I think he’s a guy who has the right mindset and mentality to be an all-Big Sky type of safety down the road.” Parents: Karen & Quintas HS coach: Former MSU assistant Jeremy Thielbahr

Sherod White, TB
5-10, 175, Fr, Menifee, CA (Heritage)
Player Notes: A three-year starter who led his team to a Sunbelt League title and state semifinals with an 11-2 record… three-star recruit who compiled over 1,400 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior… averaged 9.6 yards a carry. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Sherod is a true speed athlete. He is from Heritage High School, another very, very good program in southern California. This guy is dynamic with the ball in his hands, he can make people miss, he’s got great short-area quickness, and he’s got a true top end. We can split him out in the slot, hand him the ball in the backfield, use him on speed sweeps, he has value as a kick returner. I’m excited about his future and am really looking forward to him becoming a Bobcat.” Parents: Denezia White, Sherod White HS coach: Kraig Broach

James Williams, NT
5-10, 305, Fr, Aledo, TX (Aledo)
Player Notes: Defensive MVP of 2016 state championship team… led Aledo to 2017 state championship game and 15-1 record… four-year starter who compiled 121 solo tackles, 214 total tackles, 30 tackles-for-loss, 16.5 sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “James Williams is a winner. He’s from Aledo High School, which has won multiple state championships and competed for multiple state championshps throughout his career. He anchored the interior of their defensive line, his film is phenomenal, he was probably been missed on by some of the bigger schools because of his size. He’s not a tall guy but he’s extremely strong and powerful, has tremendous short-area quickness, he’s a true two gap nose and with Tucker (Yates) walking out the door a year from now he’s a guy we think can give us some quality reps and anchor the interior of our defensive line down the road.” Parents: Sondra Williams HS coach: Steve Woods

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