MISSOULA — The year 2020 has been as odd a recruiting season as any in recent memory.
Under the current COVID-19 pandemic, NCAA Division I schools have gone through a recruiting dead period since mid-March, and recently the NCAA opted to extend the dead period through Jan. 1, 2021.
For those unfamiliar, a dead period in recruiting is a time period where coaches cannot have in-person interactions with recruits and cannot visit their high schools or attend their games.
But despite that hurdle, coaches have utilized Zoom and other means to recruit during the 2020 season. And as Montana’s fall high school sports season wound down, athletes in Montana have had plenty of film and stats to provide coaches as they make their case to earn a spot.
Below is a look at the known in-state football commits to Montana and Montana State and how they fared in their high school seasons. This list will be updated as more recruits become known in the coming weeks as recruiting picks back up.
Montana Grizzlies (15 known in-state recruits):
Camden Capser, K, Billings Central: Capser has been a two-way standout his senior season for the Rams. While serving kicking duties on the football team, he helped guide Central to the Class A soccer semifinals, including a two-goal performance in the quarterfinals, to move the Rams into the final four. On the gridiron, Capser finished 29 for 31 on point-after tries this season and 1 for 5 on field goal attempts, his lone make a 35-yard conversion, per MaxPreps. He also had 16 touchbacks to his name. In his career with Central, Capser has converted on 10 of his 21 field goal attempts with a long of 42 yards and has made 161 of his 172 PAT attempts. Capser, who was named all-state, and the Rams advanced to the Class A state championship against Laurel.
Kellen Detrick, DE/LB/TE/FB/ Havre: Detrick had a busy six games for the Blue Ponies in 2020. A do-all senior, Detrick played wherever Havre needed him, and offensively he finished with 55 carries for 291 yards and four touchdowns while adding 16 receptions for 172 yards, per stats provided by Havre. Defensively, Detrick totaled 34 tackles, 17 solo and two for loss, while also adding a sack, a forced fumble and a recovered fumble. Detrick, listed at 6-foot-3 and 215 pounds, also held kickoff duties for Havre and was named all-state.
Zac Evans, MLB/TE/FB, Helena High: Evans made his commitment on Nov. 9 to Montana after the Bengals closed out a 6-2 season with a loss to Bozeman in the quarterfinal round. Evans finished his senior year with 100-plus tackles for the second straight year, finishing with 105, 67 of which were solo (he had 126 total his junior year), with 14 of those tackles for loss, per MaxPreps. In 2020 Evans also tallied two sacks, one forced fumble, one recovery and four pass deflections. On the offensive side of the ball, Evans caught nine passes for 58 yards. He was named all-state on the defensive side of the ball.
Colter Janacaro, QB/LB, Missoula Big Sky: Janacaro joins his older brother, Levi, as a member of the Montana football team. An all-state selection on offense and defense for the Eagles, Janacaro racked up 1,067 yards rushing on 168 carries for 18 scores for Big Sky, per MaxPreps. Janacaro also completed 84 of his 151 passes for 1,010 yards, seven touchdowns and five interceptions. Defensively, Janacaro had 40 tackles, eight for loss, and led the Eagles with four sacks and added one forced fumble on the season.
Jace Klucewich, WR/DB, Missoula Sentinel: In his first year in Class AA since transferring from Class A Frenchtown, Klucewich meshed as a two-way starter for the Spartans. Offensively, Klucewich had 17 carries for 95 yards and two touchdowns and caught 27 passes for 398 yards and four more scores, per stats provided by Sentinel. Klucewich also tallied 229 kick return yards and 127 punt return yards. Defensively, Klucewich had 32 tackles, five for loss, and also has one sack. Klucewich also had three interceptions for the Spartans, including two in the state championship game against Billings West, as Sentinel won its first Class AA state title since 1972. Klucewich was named all-state as an athlete offensively, safety and punt returner.
Brady Lang, S, Bozeman: The Lang twins committed to Montana as walk-on safeties together. Brady Lang finished the season with 30 tackles, five for loss, while also grabbing two interceptions. He also recovered a fumble and blocked one punt. Offensively, Lang caught 14 passes for 143 yards and one touchdown.
Padraig Lang, S, Bozeman: Padraig Lang caught three passes for the Hawks this season for 71 yards. Like his brother, Lang's focus is on defense, and he finished with 42 total tackles, three for loss. Lang also defended three passes and recovered one fumble.
Geno Leonard, C/LB, Missoula Sentinel: Another two-way starter for the Spartans, Leonard started every game for Sentinel’s offense at center for their high-powered offense that racked up 2,111 yards on the ground and another 2,017 through the air. Defensively, Leonard suited up at linebacker and tallied 43 total tackles, 10.5 for loss, per stats provided by Sentinel. Leonard also had 4.5 sacks to his name this year and one pass deflection. For his efforts, Leonard was the named the Class AA Defensive MVP.
Corby Mann, TE/OL/DE, Red Lodge: Mann announced his commitment to Montana after the season ended. After initially playing tight end and defensive end for the Rams, Mann switched to offensive line as Red Lodge advanced to the Class B playoffs. Defensively, Mann racked up 20 tackles, three tackles for loss and five sacks on the season for Red Lodge. Mann was also named Class B all-state for the Rams.
Sloan McPherson, TE/DE, Savage: The Griz dipped into the 6-Man ranks to find McPherson, a 6-foot-4, 230-pound athlete for Savage. The all-state McPherson helped guide Savage to the quarterfinal round of the 6-Man playoffs, the school's first since 2015, and on the season had 47.5 tackles on defense. Offensively, McPherson rushed for 154 yards, passed for 369 yards and totaled up 270 receiving yards on his way to 11 total touchdowns for Savage. McPherson also made 17 point-after attempts, which count as two points in 6-Man.
Jake Olson, TE/DE, Butte: Olson stands 6-7, 235 for the Bulldogs who finished 4-4 this season in the Class AA. Olson caught 20 passes this year for Butte for 132 yards and one score while rushing for one more touchdown per MaxPreps. Defensively, Olson finished with 25 total tackles, two for loss, and added three sacks. Olson was named all-state at tight end for the Bulldogs.
TJ Rausch, WR/DB, Missoula Sentinel: Rausch was one of Montana’s earliest commits over the summer along with Klucewich and Leonard. Coming off of a strong junior season, Rausch had another big impact for the Spartan football team en route to the Class AA title. Rausch finished as Sentinel's leading receiver with 34 catches for 451 yards and six touchdowns. Defensively, Rausch had 25 tackles for Sentinel and led the Spartans with four interceptions. Rausch was also named all-state offensively and defensively.
Camden Sirmon, QB, Missoula Sentinel: Sirmon transferred to Sentinel over the summer after his family moved to Missoula from Washington. Splitting reps with incumbent QB Dayton Bay, Sirmon helped guide the Spartans' offense to the state championship. Sirmon finished the season as the Class AA offensive MVP, completing 62 of 95 passes for 949 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions, per stats from Sentinel. Sirmon finished the season as Sentinel's lead rusher as well, carrying the ball 96 times for 847 yards and 11 more scores. One day after winning the state title, Sirmon announced his commitment to UM. Sirmon's older brother, Cy, is also a former Grizzly.
Dylan Smith, OL/DL, Whitehall: The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Smith was also one of multiple players to choose Montana after the season ended. Smith finished the season with 57 tackles and eight sacks for Whitehall, per MaxPreps. He also grabbed one interception, caused one fumble and recovered another. Smith was named all-state for his efforts and Whitehall advanced to the quarterfinal round of the Class B playoffs.
Soren Syvrud, RB/DB, Missoula Sentinel: Like Sirmon, Syvrud announced his commitment to Montana after the Spartans won the Class AA state championship, becoming the fifth Spartan to do so. A two-way starter and all-state selection, Syvrud carried the ball 85 times for 654 yards and six touchdowns as one of the team's lead backs, per stats provided by Sentinel. He also caught eight passes for 97 yards. Defensively, Syvrud racked up 39 total tackles including eight for loss. He also had 1.5 sacks and three caused fumbles. Syvrud was named the Western AA co-defensive MVP with Leonard.
Montana State Bobcats (9 known in-state recruits):
Eli Aby, QB/S, Laurel: Aby capped off his high school football career the way all high seniors hope: as a state champion. Aby threw for a touchdown and ran for one more as Laurel topped rival Billings Central 34-0 on Saturday to capture the school's first state title since 2002. On the season, Laurel finished 8-1, and Aby, who guided the Locomotives to the brink of a state championship in 2019, closed out the year completing 84 of 135 passes for 1,339 yards, 20 touchdowns and seven interceptions, per stats provided by Laurel. Aby added 63 rushing attempts this season for 168 yards and four more scores. Aby was named all-state for his efforts.
Paul Brott, DE, Billings West: Brott helped guide Billings West to the its second Class AA state championship game appearance in three years in 2020. On the season, Brott, who is following in the legacy of his older brothers in joining the Bobcats, racked up 33 tackles, 12.5 for loss, and seven sacks, per stats provided by West. He also forced two fumbles on the season and started on West's offensive line. Brott was an all-state selection on the defensive side of the ball for West.
Kade Cutler, QB/DB, Drummond-Philipsburg: Cutler led the Drummond-Philipsburg Titans to their third 8-Man state championship in four years with a 44-6 win over Scobey. Cutler was nothing short of dominant in his senior year of football. In leading the Titans, Cutler carried the ball 131 times for 1,073 yards and 25 touchdowns, per stats provided by Flint Creek. He also completed 63 of 87 passes for 1,022 yards and 16 touchdowns and one interception. Defensively, Cutler had 41 tackles, 14 pass breakups and six interceptions. He added five punt return touchdowns and four kickoff return touchdowns en route to being named all-state in the 8-Man ranks.
Neil Daily, WR/LB, Billings West: Daily was another big reason why West found itself across from Missoula Sentinel in the Class AA state championship game. A former Spartan himself, Daily finished the season with 22 catches for 411 yards and five touchdowns, per stats provided by West. Defensively, Daily had 66 total tackles, six for loss, one sack, five pass breakups, two interceptions and one forced fumble. Daily was named all-state defensively for West.
Kenneth Eiden IV, DE/TE/RB, Bozeman: After missing the first three games of the year with an ankle injury, Eiden returned in a big way to help the reigning Hawks advance to the Class AA semifinals, where they lost to Billings West. Eiden, a two-way all-state selection, had 32 carries for the Hawks with 242 yards and one score, per MaxPreps. He also caught just four passes but for 124 yards and three touchdowns as well. Defensively, Eiden had 46 total tackles, 20 for loss and seven sacks in his limited time on the field. He also forced two fumbles and recovered one which he returned for a touchdown.
Luke Fedyk, DE, Bozeman: Playing opposite Eiden, Fedyk wreaked havoc on opposing offenses as well for Bozeman. This year, Fedyk had 73 total tackles, 16 for loss and 52 solo and additionally racked up 11 sacks, per MaxPreps. Fedyk caused one fumble and offensively ran the ball for two scores.
Jace Fisher, OL/DL, Troy: Another 8-Man football product for the Bobcats, the 6-foot-5, 305-pound Fisher didn't play the entire season due to a shoulder injury but still was effective when on the field for the Trojans. Fisher racked up 23 total tackles, 11 for loss and five sacks, per stats provided by Troy.
Jace Fitzgerald, QB/DB, Dillon: Fitzgerald also follows in the footsteps of a sibling to Montana State and guided Dillon to the Class A quarterfinals in 2020. As the team's quarterback, Fitzgerald completed 132 of 201 passes for 1,838 yards, 21 touchdowns and six interceptions this season, per stats provided by Dillon. He also ran the ball 108 times for 556 yards and 10 more touchdowns on his way to being named Class A all-state.
Elijah Reynolds, RB/LB, Red Lodge: Reynolds has been another do-it-all athlete that committed to the Bobcats. A tight end and linebacker, Reynolds caught 26 passes for 408 yards and two scores, per stats from Red Lodge. The Rams' run-heavy offense also featured Reynolds as a key blocker as Red Lodge advanced to the Class B playoffs. Defensively, Reynolds tallied 30.5 tackles 4.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss for the Rams. Reynolds was also named all-state in Class B for Red Lodge.