BOZEMAN — Wednesday was early signing day, and the Montana State football program added 19 players to its class of 2024.
"You want a group that's competitive, that's hungry," Bobcats coach Brent Vigen said. "How competitive, how hungry — you know, for us being able to evaluate guys as seniors, you hope that shines through as a guy continues to improve."
One of the most critical elements in the recruitment process is keeping the best talent home. For the Bobcats, they kept eight of the top Treasure State athletes in Montana.
Four of the eight hail from Montana State's backyard of Bozeman: defensive tackle Hudson Wiens and tight end Rocky Lencioni from Bozeman High and and defensive back Ryan Nansel and linebacker Joshua Woodberry from Gallatin.
"Really excited about Josh and Ryan from Gallatin ... and Hudson and Rocky from Bozeman," Vigen said. "Four guys from in town, you know, speaks to those programs. But also speaks to those guys wanting to stay home because this is the program they grew up watching."
From Dillon, athlete Kee Christiansen signed with Montana State as a receiver. Christiansen had the game-winning two-point conversion in the 2023 Montana high school Class A state championship.
Offensive linemen Braden Zimmer of Billings West and Dalton Noble of Jefferson officially put pen to paper with Montana State. Noble originally committed to Army before switching his commitment to the Bobcats.
Linebacker Mason Dethman, a Medicine Lake native who played for the Froid-Lake co-op, is another Treasure State talent staying home.
"We feel like if we can get a good number from our state, that's the absolute place we need to start, and (we) really feel good about the guys we are bringing in from the state of Montana," Vigen explained.
Receiver Dane Steel, a Sheridan native and 2023 MaxPreps player of the year for Wyoming, signed with the Bobcats. He is the brother of former Bobcat receiver Coy Steel and current MSU sophomore defensive back Brock Steel.
"I tell him, (he's) the best of the three brothers, and everybody gets a laugh out of that," Vigen smiled.
"He was named the Wyoming MaxPreps player of the year just yesterday, I saw," Vigen said. "You know, he's done exceptional things, and part of a Sheridan program, the success they've had over the past decade and how they're coached has been evident both with the Steel brothers and the Coon brothers here."
The Washington pipeline to Bozeman was also on full display on Wednesday as five players — receiver Jabez Woods of Graham, defensive tackle Aj Tanupo of Sammamish, tight end Valcin Luvens of Auburn, running back Unterrio Latin-Henley of Tacoma and linebacker Ryan Bowles of Woodville — signed with MSU.
"This year we're very fortunate to sign five young men from the state of Washington," Vigen said.
The sole Idaho commit is from Eagle in the Boise foothills, defensive end Seth Brock.
"(We) really liked how he played this fall for a very good Eagle High School team," Vigen said. "Seth's also a wrestler, so there's an aggressive nature to him that showed up on the football field, and obviously that needs to carry over to our defensive end position."
The three Texas signees are offensive lineman Aiden Kaplan from Montgomery and defensive backs Jhase Mcmillan from Katy and Brendon Ross from Rockwall.
"Excited about that group," Vigen said about the three commits from the Lone Star State. "We'll continue to look at that area simply because of the population, the level of football play in there, and the continued connections within our team of guys having successful, impactful experience while they're here."
The sole transfer of Wednesday was tight end Rohan Jones. He is making the move from the University of Maine and is originally from Montreal, Quebec. Montana State's Gold Rush game is against Maine next season.
The tight ends group lost the most players "per capita," according to Vigen. The Bobcats lose seniors Derryk Snell and Treyton Pickering next year, and the two were critical in the team's success the past few years. So, adding to that room was important for Vigen.
"As we played without Derryk Snell for six games the second half of the season, it became so obvious how critical a guy like Derryk was," Vigen explained. "If we could get that again in the recruiting process, you know, let's go after it."
Tight ends coach Tyler Walker first found the talent and then showed Vigen Jones' tape.
"It was apparent Rohan showed a lot of the same skills (as Snell)," Vigen said. "A lot of it meshed with how we want to use that hybrid type of guy."