BOZEMAN — Thanksgiving is a holiday for spending time with family, giving back and, as always, football.
Tuesday had all three of those things as Montana State football players went out into the community to give back through various volunteer activities in the county.
The players were dispersed by position groups to help out at the Food Bank, HRDC, Science Center and Habitat for Humanity. They’re pillars for the community and enjoyed returning the support they receive throughout the season.
"The community does so much for us, supporting us on Saturdays, for the rest of the year, donating and everything, so it’s only right they we can come out and give back," Bobcats defensive back Rylan Ortt said. "Especially on Thanksgiving week and be thankful for everything that people do for us."
Ortt and the defensive backs helped at the Science Center, while the offensive line and tight ends helped out at the Food Bank to prepare for the HRDC Huffing for Stuffing event.
"Being a Bozeman guy, but more importantly a Montana State football player, you know, Bozeman supports us in so many facets, if that’s meals in the community or just showing out every Saturday," Bobcats offensive lineman Justus Perkins said. "So any chance we get to give back to them, we jump on it. We love to do it any time we can."
The players' lives can become very football-centric, especially as they enter into the FCS postseason. By using the day to give back, they also reflected on how things are bigger than the game when supporting those in need.
"One hundred percent," Perkins said. "Just to take that step back and realize how cool of an opportunity we truly do have playing football at the collegiate level and helping those around who may be in a less fortunate spot than us. Giving back really just helps us just get going again."
Ortt is most thankful for his family — both immediate and with the Bobcats — this holiday season.
"Definitely just thankful for my family," Ortt said. "The people who have helped get me here, and thankful for the family that we have here at Bobcat football. It’s a very close-knit group, been through a lot this season, got to keep grinding some more.
"But, just thankful that we’re playing football in December, we’re in the position that we are. We got a bye week, and that we’re going to be able to go home and spend some time with our family, have a good Thanksgiving dinner this week."
As for what Perkins is most thankful for? His offensive line.
"Oh I’m thankful for these guys right here," Perkins said, pointed to his linemates. "They're my brothers, so most definitely them."
Montana State has the No. 6 seed for the upcoming FCS playoffs. The Bobcats will have a first-round bye this Saturday, and then on Dec. 2 will host the winner of a game between North Dakota State and Drake.