New Montana State Coach Signs First Class

The Bobcats addressed three immediate needs with transfers, including quarterback

By Beacon Staff

During a college coaching career that has spanned the NAIA, SEC and Pac 12, Jeff Choate has learned the number of stars earned by a recruiting class is unrelated to the number of stars a recruiting class produces on the field.

“There were high fives in the (Bobcat football) offices when we got commitments from every one of these players,” Choate said Wednesday after compiling his first recruiting class as Montana State’s head coach. “I like the character of the young men we signed. This is a smart group of kids. We have guys who scored more than a 32 on the ACT, and smart football players make smart football coaches. I’m excited about that.”

Choate also said that taken as a group, the 19 players joining the Bobcats Wednesday begin to paint a picture of how he hopes his program evolves physically.

“One thing that is pretty obvious is that we wanted to get taller, longer, more athletic,” he said. “If you look at the heights and weights of the guys who are going to play in the front seven, we accomplished that. Length covers space and nowadays everybody tries to spread you out. The longer we are at the line of scrimmage the more we can spread people out on offense and the more space we can cover on defense.”

The Bobcats addressed three immediate needs with transfers. Quarterback Tyler Bruggman (Scottsdale CC) and offensive lineman Alex Neale (UNLV) joined the Bobcat program in January and will participate in spring drills, while Naijiel Hale is a cornerback from the University of Washington with starting experience.

“We knew there were needs to address right away,” Choate said. “Each of these three have played at a high level both in high school and collegiately.”

Choate’s recruits include 10 from Montana, including Troy’s Sean Opland. The 6-foot-0, 200 pound multi-sport standout played quarterback, running back, linebacker and safety for the Trojans. He will play in the summer’s Shrine game.

“He’s a very dynamic player, a position versatile guy,” Choate said of Opland. “I see him as a guy who will add immediate depth at the running back position and a ton of value for us on special teams.”

Choate said identifying the right person during his first recruiting cycle at Montana State was at least as important as identifying the best players.

“Montana kids become the glue of this program, the guys that can relate to how important Montana State’s success and tradition are to the people in this state,” Choate said. “We have strong connections in Texas and California, and as we develop we’ll work hard in places the Bobcats have traditionally recruited, like Washington and Oregon, the I-5 corridor, and Minnesota.”

»»»Click here for a breakdown of the 2016 recruiting class.

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