The #MTTop40, MTN Sports’ list profiling some of Montana’s best football players, started on July 2 with the defensive backs. We then moved through the defensive line and linebackers before tackling the offense, where we’ve featured the linemen, tight ends and, this week, wide receivers.
Montana isn’t especially known for producing NFL-caliber receivers, but that doesn’t mean the Treasure State hasn’t churned out some talented athletes on the outside. Billings Senior’s Gabe Sulser is arguably the best high school receiver Montana has ever seen, and Stevensville’s Mark Gallik and Helena Capital’s Matt Miller had sensational college careers. Havre’s Marc Mariani and Kalispell Flathead’s Sam McCullum both built NFL careers, with McCullum lasting 10 years in the league.
There are others certainly deserving of recognition, including some of the best to play at Montana and Montana State.
#MTTop40 wide receiver honorable mentions
Tanner Bleskin, Great Falls CMR
Bleskin was a multiple-sport athlete at Great Falls CMR, earning all-state honors in both basketball and football before continuing his career at Montana State. Bleskin ultimately became the Bobcats’ all-time leading receiver, accumulating 193 receptions for 2,816 yards from 2010-13.
Chris Carlson, Billings West
An all-state player at four positions – receiver, cornerback, punter and punt returner – Carlson caught 12 touchdown passes in helping Billings West to a 13-0 season and Class AA state championship in 2005. He continued his career at Harvard, where he appeared in 18 career games at cornerback.
Bill Cockhill, Helena Capital
An all-state running back at Helena Capital, Cockhill played receiver at the University of Montana, catching 158 passes for 2,257 yards and 15 touchdowns in the early 1990s. Cockhill coached on the staffs at UM and the University of Wyoming until 2007.
Kelly Davis, Butte
Davis helped Butte to the 1981 Class AA state football championship and then won a national title with Montana State in 1984. He left MSU in 1986 as the program’s career leader in touchdown receptions with 21.
Jeff McElroy, Great Falls CMR
McElroy was Dave Dickenson’s favorite target at Great Falls CMR, totaling 128 catches for 2,376 yards in 1989-90. After starting his career at Montana, McElroy transferred to the University of North Dakota, where he became one of the program’s best all-time receivers, totaling 20 touchdowns in just two seasons.