The football programs at the University of Montana and Montana State announced the 2017 recruiting classes on National Signing Day.
Wednesday marked the official day when high school seniors could sign national letters of intent to play in college while transfers could make their moves.
The Montana Grizzlies added 22 recruits and the Montana State Bobcats added 27.
Glacier’s Tadan Gilman and Jaxen Hashley signed with the Bobcats while Columbia Falls’ Trevor Hoerner and Polson’s Tanner Wilson and Matthews Rensvold are joining the Griz.
Hoerner was a captain on the Columbia Falls Wildcats team that played in the Class A state championship game. The 6-foot-4 defensive end and wide receiver was named all-state this fall. He tallied 791 yards receiving with eight touchdowns.
Wilson passed for 1,677 yards and 20 touchdowns with only four interceptions. He also rushed for 980 yards and 17 TDs. He helped lead the Pirates to a conference championship in 2016 with a 7-2 record and earned All-State honors at quarterback as a senior, as well as all-conference honors as a safety.
Rensvold, a 6-2 wide receiver and linebacker, had 1,025 yards and 12 TDs. He was named all-state twice on defense and once on offense. He had 86 tackles, recovered three fumbles and had one interception.
Gilman helped lead Glacier to the Class AA state championship game. He rushed for 684 yards and 13 TDs while passing for 2,297 yards and 21 TDs. He was all-state at linebacker as a junior and all-state at quarterback and punter as a senior.
“I love Tadan’s versatility,” MSU head coach Jeff Choate said. “You look at a young man who played safety and linebacker and running back his junior year, and they convert him to quarterback and he leads his team to a state championship game appearance (as a senior). That’s not a natural move, but I think it speaks to his competitiveness and his leadership. One of the things about this class is that we signed, I think, six guys that played high school quarterback, and those young men are generally some of the best leaders on the team and some of the best athletes on the team. I think Tadan fits that mold.”
Hashley was another team leader for the Wolfpack, excelling as a defensive and offensive lineman. He was all-state in both and this fall he had 54.5 tackles and 8.5 sacks. His father, Doug, is a member of the MSU Hall of Fame for basketball.
“He’s a 6-foot-6, 260-pound athlete who’s light on his feet, he’s a tremendous basketball player, he’s a legacy kid whose father was a hall of fame basketball player here,” Choate said. “Once he starts to focus on football he’s going to really develop quickly. He’s a young man who won a state championship his sophomore year and played for a state championship this year. He’s one of the best big men in the state of Montana at any level in basketball, and he has a little edge to him.”
Montana head coach Bob Stitt unveiled his third recruiting class, which is made up 18 high school seniors and four college transfers who have enrolled for the spring semester at UM.
The Montana class of 2017 has been in the making for over a year, with Stitt and his staff placing emphasis on building the team with known talent from camps and visits to Washington-Grizzly Stadium to take in the game-day experience.
“We feel like we’ve got a well-rounded group of kids,” said Stitt. “We’ve done very well identifying players, evaluating those players, finding out what their character is all about, not just on the field but off the field, and also how well they do in the classroom. We want good students, and we got that in this recruiting class.”
Ten of Montana’s 18 incoming high school seniors hail from the state of Montana, reflecting the importance Stitt placed on home grown talent when building his 2017 class.
“Montana kids. That’s where we start. We did a very good job of identifying the players with FCS ability in the state very early,” said Stitt. “Our whole recruiting process revolves around the kids in Montana. There was a ton of them this year, and we’ve signed 10 of them we feel can help us win a lot of ballgames.”
Payton Stoner, one of two incoming offensive line recruits committed to Montana after previously committing to San Jose State. Stoner says his decision was built largely on the environment at Washington-Grizzly Stadium after a visit to Missoula in December.
“I just ended up loving it. It felt like home,” he said. “It’s a pretty incredible place. I think people take for granted how great a good fan base is, and how great it is for your stadium to be sold out at every home game. I’m excited to play in front of all those awesome fans.”
Montana’s incoming class of 2017 is balanced equally on both sides of the ball, with 10 players singed to the offense and 11 to Jason Semore’s defensive unit, with one athlete (McKenzie Holt) who the staff believes could find a home on either side of the ball.
Click here for a breakdown of the recruits.
Montana State Bobcats
Jeff Choate announced his first full recruiting class with excitement.
“We’ve called this the Class of Champions,” Choate said, “because 25 of these players played on championship teams in high school. The kids in this class have won on the field, they’ve won in the classroom, with a cumulative grade point average of over 3.4, and they are the kind of people that will represent this program and our University the right way.”
The Bobcats added three players at running back, two transfers, to provide competition and productivity immediately. Edward Vander rushed for over 1,000 yards at Saddleback College in California last fall, and transfers to MSU after the spring semester as a sophomore. Jake Roper is a redshirt freshman currently enrolled at MSU after spending last fall at Boise State, and Tyrell Burgess is an explosive back from Florida.
Across the board, Choate expressed his program’s desire to add “length and athleticism on both lines, and speed and explosiveness” at the skill positions.
“We certainly made an effort to improve both lines in terms of adding long, athletic players,” Choate said. Three of the newest Bobcats slot into the offensive line, while four project as defensive linemen.
The recruiting areas targeted for this year’s class should seem familiar to Bobcat fans.
“We will always start closest to home,” Choate said, and true to that two signees prepped just down 11th Street from Bobcat Stadium at Bozeman High School.
In all, 10 of the 27 student-athletes announced Wednesday graduate from Treasure State high schools in the spring, ranging from Class AA to Class C. MSU also landed players from traditional recruiting grounds of California, Washington and Oregon, along with a bordering state in Idaho. The newest Cats also hail from Florida and Georgia.
Click here for more info on the recruiting class.
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