BOZEMAN -- Wednesday's National Signing Day was a big day for high school football players, but it was equally, if not more important, for college coaches such as Montana State’s Jeff Choate, who had to take a different approach, focusing on in-state recruits.
“I credit (MSU assistant coach B.J. Robertson) for always being that advocate for these Montana kids, and I credit our staff for having the discipline for always sticking to our guns and saying we’re prioritizing Montana, because we know these kids and we know whether they're going to fit us," Choate said. "We’re committed to recruiting Montana and I think it shows in this class.”
With looks from FBS schools, Choate was ecstatic to have Bozeman’s Kenneth Eiden IV officially sign with the program.
“I really feel like Kenneth was the most dominant high school football player (in Montana) over the last three years," said Choate. "If you just look at his body of work from his sophomore year to his senior year, even with missing some time as a senior, I don’t know if there was anyone more disruptive than this young man in the state of Montana over the last three years.”
Another Bozeman Hawk, Luke Fedyk, is going to fit right in with the way Choate wants his players to be on and off the field.
“He’s just a grinder," said the Montana State head coach. "Everything through our research showed he is one of the hardest-working guys there is. (Fedyk) is totally into building his body the right way, and he ended up playing defensive end for Bozeman this year and really sacrificed some individual accolades for what the team needed him to do. He embraced that, playing opposite of Kenny on the D-line for the Hawks, and that’s all you need to know. You have one of the hardest-working guys on the team, who is also one of the most selfless guys on the team, he’s going to make a great Bobcat.”
The state of Montana was also wondering where Billings Senior star athlete Junior Bergen would end up, and, on Wednesday, he also committed to the Bobcats.
“I’m fired up to get Junior in the house, and a nice little cherry on top of the sundae for us (Wednesday morning)," said Choate. "I think he can be a starting cornerback in the league, I think he can be a starting slot (wide receiver) in this league and, heck, another guy that’s played a bunch of quarterback, you can see that continue to be a theme for us.”
During the press conference, Choate compared Red Lodge football player and MSU commit Elijah Reynolds to one of Bozeman’s own who is now in the NFL.
“If you watch this guy's tape, I will tell you he compares favorably to Will Dissly," Choate said. "I know that because we were recruiting Will when I was at Washington. He ended up becoming a Husky and played D-line for me before he transitioned to tight end, and I think Elijah could do the same thing. I think he could play defensive end, I think he can play tight end, he can do a lot of things, but I think he’s a guy that has a tremendous, tremendous ceiling."
With the lack of being able to recruit all offseason, it had a severe impact on the Bobcats' ability to recruit kids from Washington or Oregon. MSU had nine in-state recruits of the 20 signees announced on Wednesday.
“We didn’t get in as deep with them as we would have, I think, if we would have just been out in the spring," Choate said. "If we would have just been out in the spring recruiting cycle, we would have had our lists, we would have evaluated them, we would have put that sniper rifle on them, but that didn’t happen, and then you couple that with guys not playing in the fall, it really did hurt kids in those states.”