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"Only as strong as our weakest link": Montana State secondary making strides as fall camp progresses

MSU Corners Fall Camp
Bobcat Fall Camp
Posted at 4:14 PM, Aug 09, 2023

BOZEMAN — The competition heated up in the first day of full pads at Montana State's fall-camp practice Wednesday.

The secondary is setting a fierce tone on defense, and for the first time in a while they’ve got some true depth to utilize.

“This is honestly one of the first years we have the most depth at the corner position," Bobcats cornerback Simeon Woodard said. "A lot of years we have maybe three healthy guys, four healthy guys, but I wouldn’t be surprised if anybody gets on the field and, you know, does their thing, so I’m excited to see where we go this year.”

This secondary lost some key leaders in the off season to the next level, such as Ty Okada and James Campbell, but it’s players like Woodard that can be relied on to bring veteran leadership to the field and the locker room.

“I can only speak to the secondary; it’s a group where we lost some good players, and really Rylan Ortt and Simeon Woodard are the two starting guys that are back," coach Brent Vigen said.

Ortt and Woodard are taking their level of leadership very seriously and striving to better the entire group.

“You know we just bring everybody with us," Woodard said. "We’re only as strong as our weakest link, and if we can get the person at the bottom to be at their best then Lord knows where we’ll be at.”

They’ve also got some new faces in the cornerbacks room like Jon Johnson, a junior college transfer from El Camino CC, already making a splash with his versatile game and hungry mindset.

“I can play corner, safety, nickel," Johnson explained. "I like being all around the field. I like being used, so I just want to be on the field and play against other guys.”

There’s been a lot of aggressive competition throughout practice between the corners and receivers, but they’re all just trying to better each other.

“It just makes us better," Bobcats wide receiver Clevan Thomas Jr. said. "There’s no refs out there, so what I might think is a holding call might not be a holding call. They might think it’s a push-off, (it) might not be a push-off. So at the end it’s just going to get us better, but it has been fun, I’m not going to lie.”

Johnson is taking advantage of learning from the receivers he's able to go up against. It's an added benefit of the high level of competition the Bobcats have.

“It’s been great," Johnson said. "C.T. (Thomas), since he’s a transfer from Kentucky, I get more visions, and what I should do against different routes, and different coverage, and how would I play it.”

This group is meshing well, and ready to use that depth headed into this upcoming season.