HAVRE – First-year Montana State University-Northern football coach Andrew Rolin has been busy since he started in January. In addition to assembling a brand-new staff, he hit the ground running on the recruiting trail and has brought in an initial 2018 signing class of 27 athletes, including 14 from the state of Montana.
The Lights, who begin spring drills Monday in Havre, plan on adding more prospects before the season begins Aug. 25 against Mayville State. But Rolin is excited about the first wave of signees, several of whom are well known to high school football fans in Montana.
Class AA sprint champion Damien Nelson of Great Falls CMR, Laurel defensive end BJ Hatcher, and wide receiver Malik Toure of Hardin are among several Montana athletes who are expected to make an impact for the Lights this fall.
The Lights hit the field for the first time together Monday at 4 p.m. for the first of 15 spring practices. Drills will conclude with the annual spring scrimmage on April 21.
Below is the Lights’ 2018 signing class in alphabetical order, including thoughts from coach Rolin on each recruit:
2018 MSU-NORTHERN RECRUITING CLASS (ALPHABETICAL ORDER)
-Trevor Barkley, DE, 6-2, 205 pounds, Anaheim, CA (Esperanza HS) Rolin’s comment: “Great frame with a very high upside. Great motor.”
-Sam Braboy, RB, 6-1, 190 pounds, Auburn, WA (Auburn Riverside HS) Rolin’s comment: “Throw back Running Back. Big body kid with exceptional speed. Has the ability to run over the defender or simply run by them.”
-David Evans, DE, 6-2, 215 pounds, Hardin, MT (Hardin HS) Rolin’s comment: “A fantastic athlete that has the ability to be a big factor in the pass rush. Very high ceiling.”
-James Gilham, WR, 5-8, 165 pounds, Browning, MT (Browning HS) Rolin’s comment: “All-State, 1st Team All-Conference WR. Fluid, big-play threat that can play any WR position.”
-BJ Hatcher, DE, 6-3, 195 pounds, Laurel, MT (Laurel HS) Rolin’s comment: “One of the most athletic defensive lineman from the state of Montana. BJ possesses great speed and length off the edge to make him a phenomenal pass rusher.”
-Joshua Hutchins, OL, 6-1, 280 pounds, Puyallup, WA (Rogers HS) Rolin’s comment: “A physical specimen up front who has the strength and athleticism to be a force in the Frontier Conference for years to come.”
-Johnathyn A. Jordan, DE, 6-3, 210 pounds, Seattle, WA (Garfield HS) Rolin’s comment: “Dynamic athlete off the edge. Jonathyn has the ability to give Offensive Lineman issues with his length and speed.”
-Caleb Knoche, ATH, 6-0, 185 pounds, Fortsyth, MT (Forsyth HS) Rolin’s comment: “A great player that will be playing in the Shrine Game this summer. Has the athleticism to be very versatile for Northern Football.”
-Tevita Leetham, OL, 6-4, 230 pounds, West Jordan, UT (West Jordan HS) Rolin’s comment: “High ceiling offensive tackle. Athletic and very physical.”
-Joseph Mikkelson, TE, 6-4, 190 pounds, Brockton, MT (Brockton HS) Rolin’s comment: “Good athlete with a great frame. Has the ability to develop into a great passing and blocking threat.”
-Dax Miller, LB, 6-1, 175 pounds, Florence, MT (Florence-Carlton HS) Rolin’s comment: “A long, athletic linebacker. Uses his hands very effectively and makes great tackles in space on his opponents.”
-Damien Nelson, CB, 5-10, 155 pounds, Great Falls, MT (CM Russell) Rolin’s comment: “Dynamic defensive back that is an explosive returner on Special Teams. Was the Montana State 100 meter champion out of CMR.”
-De’Quon Noble, LB, 6-0, 2145 pounds, Spokane, WA (North Central HS) Rolin’s comment: “Great addition to the linebacker core. Good size and ability.”
-Brandon Powell, FB, 5-11, 235 pounds, Sacramento, CA (Sacramento City College) Rolin’s comment: “Very physical Fullback. Has great hands out of the backfield and loves seeking out defenders to hit.”
-Codi Small, RB, 5-8, 160 pounds, Hardin, MT (Hardin HS) Rolin’s comment: “Quick-twitched back with really good vision and sets up his blocks to break a long run.”
-Charles Storey, WR, 6-2, 200 pounds, Hardin, MT (Hardin HS) Rolin’s comment: “Good athlete with a nice mix of size, speed and strength. Will make plays even in tight coverage.”
-Keagan Stroop, WR, 5-9, 145 pounds, Belt, MT (Belt HS) Rolin’s comment: “Do-everything athlete from Central Montana. Played QB and returned kicks at Belt. Brings versatility and toughness.”
-Colter Syzmoniak, DT, 6-0, 245 pounds, Eureka, MT (Lincoln County HS) Rolin’s comment: “Great addition to the Northern Defensive Line. He comes to Havre from Lincoln County High School, who won a Montana High School State Championship this past fall.”
-Landon Taylor, SAF, 5-10, 165 pounds, Fort Benton, MT (Ft. Benton HS) Rolin’s comment: “Great Hi-Line prospect. Three sport athlete at Fort Benton HS, who led the football team as a QB and Safety.”
-Da’Jon Thomas, WR, 5-7, 175 pounds, San Diego, CA (Lincoln HS) Rolin’s comment: “Elite speed and quickness, excellent in space and in the middle of the field. Scored rushing, receiving and return TDs, and had 3 INTs defensively. Electric athlete with great potential.”
-Jeff Tinae, S, 6-0, 175 pounds, Seattle, WA (Kennedy Catholic) Rolin’s comment: “Jeff is a long, physical safety. He is a player with a very high football IQ, which will allow him to assimilate to the college level quickly.”
-Malik Toure, WR, 6-5, 185 pounds, Hardin, MT (Hardin HS)Rolin’s comment: “Very exciting addition to the WR group. Long, tall, athlete with great hands. WIll catch anything near him. Unlimited upside.”
-Andrez Trahan, RB, 5-10, 185 pounds, Kirkland, WA (Juanita HS)Rolin’s comment: “Physical, down-hill runner with good balance and runs with great pad level and does a great job catching the ball out of the backfield.”
-Trendae Umi-Tuato’o, DT, 5-11, 285 pounds, Auburn, WA (Riverside HS) Rolin’s comment: “Huge addition to the Northern Defensive Line. Constantly around the ball, which gives him the ability to affect the run and the pass.”
-Jay Vance, DT, 6-0, 230 pounds, Fresno, CA (Edison HS)
Rolin’s comment: “Highly recruited player out of high school that held multiple D2 and NAIA offers. An active, aggressive player that has the ability to do be a game changer early for Northern.”
-Trevor Yuhas, OL, 6-2, 275 pounds, Great Falls, MT (GF Central HS) Rolin’s comment: “A team captain and multi-sport athlete from the Great Falls area who has a solid build and a high upside as an interior offensive lineman.”