Jeff Choate reveals first Bobcat recruiting class

BOZEMAN — During a college coaching career that has reached from NAIA to the SEC and Pac 12, Jeff Choate has learned that 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.”

Montana State’s Class of 2016 reflects the emphasis on home-grown players along with geographic diversity that he hopes become hallmarks of his program. 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.”

Choate said identifying the right person during his first recruiting cycle at Montana State was at least as important as identifying the best players. “We wanted to find the right Cats,” he said.

Transfers (Already enrolled)

Name, Pos.                                            Ht            Wt           Class   Hometown                 High School          Previous College

Tyler Bruggman, QB                           6-2          190         Jr         Phoenix, AZ              Brophy Prep         Scottsdale/Louisville/Wash St

Alex Neale, OL                                     6-3          290         So        Duvall, WA                Eastside Catholic                UNLV

Transfers (To enroll in August)

Name, Pos.                                            Ht            Wt           Class   Hometown                 High School          Previous College

+Naijiel Hale, DB (like Nigel)            5-10       180         Fr         Bellflower, CA          St. John Bosco     Washington

High School NLI or Letter of Acceptance Signees

Chase Benson, DL                              6-3          242         Fr         Helena, MT               Helena

Balue Chapman, LB                           6-1          189         Fr         Bozeman, MT           Bozeman

Kyle Finch, DE                                     6-3          216         Fr         Dillon, MT                  Beaverhead County

*Connor Floden, OL                            6-2          275         Fr         El Dorado, CA          Oak Ridge

Jacob Hadley, ATH                             6-6          195         Fr         Billings, MT               Billings Central

Michael Jobman, LB                           6-4          211         Fr         Huntley Project, MT Huntley Project

Kevin Kassis, WR (KASS-iss)            5-11       178         Fr         El Dorado, CA          Oak Ridge            

Lewis Kidd, DL                                     6-6          256         Fr         Fridley, MN               Totino-Grace

Derek Marks, DL                                  6-1          227         Fr         Belgrade, MT            Belgrade

Chris Murray, QB                                 6-2          182         Fr         Inglewood, CA         Lawndale

Sean Opland, RB (AWP-lund)          6-0          200         Fr         Troy, MT                    Troy

Jared Padmos, K/P                             6-2          175         Fr         Boulder, MT              Jefferson County

Anthony Pegues, RB (PEG-ess hard ‘g’)       5-8          180         Fr         Frisco, TX                  Centennial           

Jake Sessions, OL                              6-5          275         Fr         Colstrip, MT              Colstrip

Karl Tucker, WR                                   6-1          205         Fr         Great Falls, MT         CM Russell

Taylor Tuiasasopo, OL (too-ee-aw-suh-SO-poe)   6-4          314         Fr         Lancaster, CA          Paraclete

Damien Washington, DB                   5-10       176         Fr         Covina, CA               Charter Oak

*-Signed admissions acceptance agreements        +-Signed financial aid agreement

Bobcat Recruits by Position

Quarterback – 2, Running Back – 2, Offensive Line – 4, Receiver – 2, Defensive Line – 4, Linebacker – 2, Defensive Back – 2, Kicker – 1,

Athlete – 1

Bobcat Recruits by Home State

Montana – 10, California – 6, Arizona – 1, Minnesota – 1, Texas – 1, Washington – 1

— MSU Sports Information 

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