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Montana State Bobcats football signs 23 new recruits

Jeff Choate Montana State football
Posted at 7:03 PM, Dec 18, 2019

(Editor's note: Montana State University media release)

BOZEMAN -- Jeff Choate likes the physical attributes of the 23 student-athletes that made official their intent to join the Montana State football program for the 2020 season on Wednesday. He’s impressed with the academic performance and the commitment of each to improve.

But there’s something else that pleases him.

“Most of these young men have been with us a long time,” Choate said on Wednesday. “I think 19 of the 23 committed during the summer and stayed with us. They had the opportunity to make an unofficial visit to campus or participate in our camps, so not only did we want them to become Bobcats but they had a strong interest in Montana State. In my experience, that helps with the staying power. These young men are here for the right reasons, the mix of a strong academic environment and the opportunity to play for a nationally-ranked football team.”

Choate also praised the balance and versatility of the Class of 2020 December signings.

“This is a well-rounded class,” he said. “We have a lot of athletes that can play multiple positions, we addressed some needs with players that can impact us right away and also brought in young men with the opportunity to grow and develop in our system.”

The work on this year’s signing class, Choate said, is far from over.

“Our primary focus in January and February is to get a couple more defensive linemen and a couple more defensive backs," he said.

JANUARY ENROLLEES

Charles Brown, WR

5-11, 173, Fr, Arlington, TX (Arlington)

Player Notes: Earned District MVP honors as a senior at Arlington High... registered over 1,300 receiving yards with 16 touchdowns for the Colts... earned all-conference honors twice and all-state honors once... active in mentoring elementary and middle school students. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Charles is a tremendous high school football from the state of Texas, he’s (current Bobcat) Jaden Smith’s cousin, and he’s going to be the first young man since I’ve been here that’s going to enroll early. He’s going to start his college and athletic career here at Montana State in January. He’s a dynamic player with great top-end speed and he’s a guy who I think is going to have an immediate impact in our program.”

Brody Grebe, DL

6-3, 220, Fr, HS, Melstone, MT (Choate Rosemary Hall)

Player Notes: Earned 406 MT Sports Male Athlete of the Year in Montana for 2018-19... all-state in basketball at Melstone High and in football at Roundup High... rushed for 1,441 yards with 31 total touchdowns, logging 95 tackles with two interceptions for touchdowns for Roundup... attended Melstone High. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Brody came to all of our camps and we’ve been recruiting him from his junior year on, and when he had the opportunity to do the post-grad year at the prep school we though it would be a good idea for him. He was one of the best track athletes in the state of Montana his junior and senior years and he had a lot of basketball opportunities, too, but he hadn’t played a lot of football, so this was a chance for him to play football at a higher level. We had the opportunity to watch his first couple of games, and then the light came on in his last handful of games. He was dominant in his last handful of games. He’s a high, high academic kid and I think when he was out there he enjoyed the experience but realized he was ready to come back home. He comes in at a position of need down the road, the Buck position, and he fits our program.”

Shayden King, OL

6-5, 288, Fr, Big Timber, MT (Sweet Grass)

Player Notes: First Team All-Class B selection as a defensive lineman for Sweet Grass as a senior... his father is an MSU Extension agent. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Shayden is from Big Timer is a guy that we gray-shirted a year ago. We kind of got on him a little late, in fact late enough that we didn’t announce him, but we decided that it made sense for him to be part of this class. He’s a big-bodied guy who had a really good high school career and fits exactly what we’re looking for in terms of having a lot of big, strong offensive linemen who have the opportunity to compete and develop.”

Matthew McKay, QB

6-4, 211, Jr, Tr, Raleigh, NC (North Carolina St/Wakefield)

Player Notes: Transfers to MSU in January from North Carolina State... played in six games as a sophomore this season, throwing for 910 yards (86-150-1, three touchdowns) while rushing for 63 yards on 25 carries (four touchdowns)... he played in five games in 2018 after redshirting in 2017... threw for 5,932 yards and 58 touchdowns at Wakefield High in Raleigh, rushing for 2,386 yards and 39 touchdowns... he was NC State’s Offensive Scout Team Player of the Year in 2017. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “A transfer quarterback from North Carolina State who was developed under Eli Drinkowitz’s system, and when Eli went to Appalachian State they shifted offensive coordinators and I think he kind of got caught in the shuffle a little bit. He’s a high academic kid who comes from a great family. DeNarius was involved in his recruitment (at NC State) and that was the connection. Matt is a guy who will add tremendous depth and come in with the chance to compete with our current starter Tucker (Rovig) and add tremendous value to our quarterback room and our team overall with his character and playmaking ability.”

Naequan Parker, WR

6-3, 185, Jr, Sacramento, CA (American River/Woodcreek)

Player Notes: Caught 30 passes for 368 yards and seven touchdowns as a sophomore at American River in 2019... caught 20 passes for 228 yards and four touchdowns as a freshman. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Naequan’s a junior college transfer from American River, originally from Sacramento, and he did not play high school football. He was a tremendous basketball athlete in high school so he’s only really played two years of football and he’s developed in a short amount of time into a really talented playmaking receiver. He can jump on the run and make plays on 50-50 balls, and he’s another solid student who I think will fit tremendously well into our receiver room. With losing two seniors we felt it was important to get a guy who’s a little older in that room.”

INCOMING FRESHMEN

Tommy Campbell, DL

6-4, 204, Fr, Columbus, MT (Columbus)

Player Notes: Second Team All-Southern B as a junior. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Tommy Campbell popped on our radar during football camp. We do what we call Smokehouse (to determine) the camp’s fastest guy, and he ended up being that guy. He’s from Columbus and is a long, athletic guy who really, really runs well and is just now starting to scratch the surface of what he’s going to be as a football player. He can play tight end, he could be a field end for us or a Buck. He has really good twitch and is an excellent pass rusher.”

Jake D’Agostino, DB

6-1, 180, Fr, Bozeman, MT (Bozeman)

Player Notes: Second team all-state quarterback after leading Bozeman High to the 2019 Class AA State Championship... his uncle Mark D’Agostino and cousin John, among other relatives, played for the Cats. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “What I love about Jake is that he’s a winner. He’s obviously a legacy in this program, but he’s a guy who was a role player and played some defense, played some wide receiver as a junior, then stepped into the starting quarterback role as a senior and led them to a state championship. We feel like he’s got position versatility. He could play quarterback, could play safety, could end up growing into a linebacker looking at his frame. He’s another in a long line of guys that we feel add value to our program.”

Aidan Garrigan, WR

6-3, 187, Fr, Magnolia, TX (Magnolia)

Player Notes: Earned all-conference honors twice at Magnolia... caught 25 passes for 375 yards and three touchdowns as a junior... an All-District Academic selection as a senior. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Aidan is a Texas guy that Coach (DeNarius) McGhee got up here for camp, and was one of the best guys we saw in our camp situation. He kind of reminded me a little bit skill-wise and body size of Mitch Herbert. He’s a long, rangy receiver, great ball skills, who had a very, very good high school career in the state of Texas.”

Miles Jackson, DB

5-11, 182, Fr, Portland, OR (Central Catholic)

Player Notes: Logged 29 tackles with a pair of interceptions and 10 pass breakups as a senior... returned a kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown against nationally-ranked Eastside Catholic (Washington)... nine tackles as a junior. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Miles Jackson is a DB from Central Catholic High School in Portland who won a state championship. He’s a long, rangy player with good hips who reminds me of some of the longer young corners we have in the program, the Gibson brothers (Ty’Rhae and Ty’Rese), (Eric) Zambrano, and we graduate a lot of guys (at cornerback in the next two seasons) so we need to start replacing those guys.”

Bryce Leighton, P

6-3, 180, Fr, Camas, WA (Camas)

Player Notes: The second-ranked prep punter in the nation by Kohl’s Camps... chosen as Under Armour All-America as one of the top 100 prep football players in the nation... won the punting competition at the national Kohl’s Camp last summer. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Bryce was ranked as the number one punter in the country, and he picked Montana State for all the right reasons. He’s interested in our engineering program. He committed to us early in the fall and has stayed with us. He was part of that state championship team at Camas High School, and with Jered Padmos finishing his career we have a lot to replace there. We hope Bryce can step right in and have an immediate impact.”

Max Lenzy, DB

5-10, 175, Fr, Tigard, OR (Tigard)

Player Notes: Earned his league’s Co-Defensive Player of the Year award as a senior... first team all-state cornerback and first team all-league as a receiver and kick returner in 2019... led the state with 10 interceptions as a junior. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Max Lenzy is a young man from Tigard High School in Portland, he has a brother that plays at Notre Dame. He was a great high school football player, tough, smart, extremely productive both on offense and defense. He’s a guy that we feel very fortunate to get. His production is outstanding and we’re very excited about Max.”

Tommy Mellott, QB

6-0, 182, Fr, Butte, MT (Butte)

Player Notes: Earned Class AA Offensive MVP honors as a senior after leading Butte High to the state title game... threw for 7,89 yards for the Bulldogs, including 2,940 as a senior... 30 touchdowns and four interceptions in 2019... rushed for 1,217 yards as a senior, 20499 yards in his career... highly active in the Butte community. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “The (Class) AA Offensive Player of the Year, Tommy’s a special young man. He’s extremely bright. We were talking the other day about him going to med school, and he’s the kind of guy I’d want operating on me. And to watch him operate on opponents over the course of his career at Butte High, what a phenomenal run they had under coach Arie Grey. He has a chance to be the dual threat quarterback we’ve been looking for. We have some pro-style quarterbacks, but Tommy is very accurate, a great decision-maker, and athletic enough to hurt you running the ball.”

McCade O’Reilly, LB

5-11, 210, Fr, Bozeman, MT (Bozeman)

Player Notes: Earned First Team All-State honors as a junior, but missed his senior season with an injury. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Going into the (2019 high school) season McCade would have been a preseason (Class) AA MVP-type candidate, but unfortunately he fractured an ankle during fall camp. He was the biggest cheerleader for the Bozeman Hawks this season. He has a brother (Callahan) in the program so I know what kind of kid this is. He’s tough, hard-working, extremely strong and explosive. I think we can use him in short-yardage situations as a big back down the road, but he’s going to be a really good addition for our inside linebacker group.”

Aidan Parks, LB

6-0, 201, Fr, Chico, CA (Pleasant Valley)

Player Notes: Helped lead his team to a CIF Div. 4-AA State Bowl Championship as a junior... starred at linebacker and running back, and also played soccer and ran track. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Aidan Parks’ dad played in the NFL and at Stanford, and Aidan is a very, very versatile football player. He can play tailback, outside linebacker, probably even safety. He’s smart, tough, and he reminds me a lot of (former Bobcat) Mac Bignell in terms of his skill set. That’s a lot to put on a kid, but I think Aidan will have a tremendous career here at Montana State and we’re extremely excited to have him.”

Rush Reimer, OL

6-6, 295, Fr, Camas, WA (Camas)

Player Notes: A two-time all-conference selection who earned First Team All-State honors as a senior for a state title team. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Rush was an all-state offensive lineman for the state champion Camas Papermakers who was a highly-sought after offensive tackle. We’re thrilled that we got him. He’s a great fit for us academically, a great fit for us on the football field, and we continue to add bodies to that offensive front because that’s what this thing is all about.”

Conor Reitler, OL

6-4, 275, Fr, Billings, MT (Skyview)

Player Notes: A three-year starter at Skyview, earning all-conference honors as a junior and senior... earned all-conference honors in wrestling as a junior. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Another Montana offensive lineman, Conor was at our team camp and competed very, very well throughout the year. Their high school program has struggled in terms of rebuilding over the last couple of years, but one of the bright spots has been Conor Reitler. I feel like he’s a tough, smart kid who’s going to give us more bodies on that offensive line.”

Jaalen Rening, RB

5-10, 187, Fr, Visalia, CA (Central Valley Christian)

Player Notes: A four-year starter at Central Valley Christian who earned all-conference honors all four seasons and all-state honors twice... rushed for 169 yards a game with 14 touchdowns as a senior. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Jaalen is a running back who’s been committed to us for quite a while. He had some injuries his senior year, but had a phenomenal junior year and he performed well when he came up for camp. I really love his spirit. He’s one of my favorite guys to talk to on the phone because he’s always excited about what’s going on with the Bobcats, and in my experience here taking pride in what’s going on with the program is one of the keys to success. I think Jaalen will fit right in.”

Aaron Richards, OL

6-4, 265, Fr, Butte, MT (Butte Central)

Player Notes: A four-year starter for the Maroons who was all-conference three times and all-state twice... Academic All-State all four seasons... also plays basketball and competes in track and field. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Aaron Richards is an offensive lineman from Butte Central. It’s hugely important for us to sign some Butte guys. Aaron was a very, very productive high school offensive and defensive lineman who’s a great fit for us academically. He adds important depth for us on the offensive line.”

Connor Ryan, DB

6-1, 195, Fr, Billings, MT (West)

Player Notes: Earned First Team All-State and all-conference honors as a senior... intercepted one pass each as a junior and senior... averaged 27.8 yards per kick return and 6.5 yards per punt return as a senior. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Connor is another legacy, his father (Si) played here, and I feel like he was one of the best players in (Class) AA football this year. He’s extremely explosive and dynamic. He helped West High win a state championship a year ago and make a deep playoff run this year. He’s one of the faster guys in the state of Montana and was a threat on both kickoff and punt returns as well as at safety.”

Peyton Thornton, TE

6-3, 222, Fr, Las Vegas, NV (Faith Lutheran)

Player Notes: A three-year starter who earned all-conference honors all three seasons... honorable mention all-state as a junior... caught 11 touchdowns as a senior, averaging 89 receiving yards a game. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “His mom actually attended Montana State, and Peyton is another young man that we identified through out camp. We started doing some work in Las Vegas and Arizona with Coach (Erik) Frazier, and he actually reminds me a lot of Ryan Lonergan. He has a similar body type and skill set. He’s very good in a flex position and show’s toughness and willingness to block.”

Danny Uluilakepa, LB

6-1, 214, Fr, Puyallup, WA (Puyallup)

Player Notes: Earned all-conference honors three times and all-state honors twice... logged 174 tackles as a senior, 182 as a junior... picked off five passes in his career. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Danny was the SPSL Defensive Player of the Year from Puyallup High School, a very good high school football program. He was highly recruited by Big Sky schools, had some Mountain West interest as well, and he took his official visit during the season at one of our home games. He’s from a great family. Coach (Kane) Ioane originally identified him but I think Bobby Daly did a great job building a relationship with this kid and we’re really excited about his future here.”

Sebastian Valdez, DL

6-3, 243, Fr, Spring Valley, CA (Monte Vista)

Player Notes: Started at Monte Vista for three years, two with current Bobcat freshman Blake Schmidt, earning all-conference honors twice... logged eight sacks as a senior. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Sebastian is from southern California and was identified by Coach (DeNarius) McGhee through the recruiting process. He came up and competed in our camp, and we offered him a scholarship shortly after that and he accepted that in July. He can play field end, Buck, played a little tight end in high school. He has position versatility, is long and rangy with good twitch, and he’s another player who we think will be a good defensive lineman here at Montana State.”

Trey Yates, DL

6-0, 265, Fr, Colstrip, MT (Colstrip)

Player Notes: Earned All-Class B and All-Eastern B honors as a senior defensive lineman... also All-Eastern B as a junior... considered the state’s top heavyweight wrestler, as well. From MSU Coach Jeff Choate: “Trey is a legacy, Tucker’s brother, from Colstrip, and he’s a bulldog. He plays with tremendous passion, energy, he’s a very strong guy, an excellent wrestler, a true competitor. Trey is a great addition to this class, and will add value to our interior defensive line.”