BOZEMAN — Rob Ash added a group of five preferred walk-ons to his Montana State football program on Monday, a list that includes two payers whose fathers played for the Bobcats and another who has drawn national raves for his courage in overcoming a devastating injury.
But Ash wants to make a couple things clear.
“These are players we recruited to join our program,” he said, “because we think they will compete on the field, compete for scholarships, and help us win games. They are all smart, tough, strong kids. At our level there isn’t enough scholarship money to sign everyone, and we’ve brought some of this school’s best players ever into our program as preferred walk-ons.”
Ash also emphasized that none of the players, in spite of strong ties to the program, are joining as favors. “These guys are good players,” he said. “There are is no sympathy or looking for a feel-good story involved.”
All five players come from Montana high schools. The fathers of Missoula Hellgate’s Hunter Mahlum (Tom) and and Bozeman’s John D’Agostino (Mark) each played for the Bobcats. “It’s great to add legacies to the program, and in John’s case he comes from a hometown state championship team. He’s a very skilled receiver who showed the ability to run past guys, to make tacklers miss and turn short catches into long runs. Hunter is a tough, dedicated athlete who can play on either side of the ball.”
Koni Dole of Huntley Project played his senior season with a prosthetic leg after an injury as a junior led to amputation below the knee. Ash called him one of “the most inspirational athletes I’ve ever known. He is tremendously strong and dedicated and he’s always wanted to play for the Bobcats. I look forward to seeing him play linebacker here.”
Kalispell Glacier’s Noah James also suffered a leg injury that cost him the end of his senior season last fall, and has drawn comparisons to current MSU running back Chad Newell. “Noah is a strong, physical player who is a skilled running back and tough linebacker. We’re going to play him at running back.”
Wilson Brott spent time at quarterback for Billings West last fall, but joins the Bobcat program as a tight end. “He is a very athletic player,” Ash said, “and Coach (Jason) McEndoo suggested that he try tight end. He accepted, and we’re excited and intrigued to see him there. He has the physical attributes to become a good player at that position.”
Ash said that rather than addressing needs at positions, the Bobcats took the best players available in rounding out the 2014 recruiting class. “These were the players interested in joining our program that, even though we didn’t have scholarship money for were willing to compete for playing time like everyone else we bring in. I’m very excited and impressed by this group of players.”
Wilson Brott, TE
6-5, 203, Fr, Billings ( West)
Player Notes: Threw for 783 yards and rushed for 55 more as a senior QB at Billings West in 2013… moves to tight end upon arriving at MSU.
From MSU Coach Rob Ash: “Wilson is a very talented athlete who had both basketball and football options for college, but he’s choosing football and we’re excited about his decision to change positions. He has the frame and athleticism to develop into a very good tight end.”
John D’Agostino, WR
6-1, 175, Fr, Bozeman (Bozeman)
Player Notes: Finished fourth in Class AA in receiving yards as a senior in 2013 with 90.0 per game (nine games)… caught 11 touchdown passes, second-most in Class AA… caught 3.3 passes a game, tied for ninth in the state… selected as an alternate for the 2014 Montana East-West Shrine Game.
From MSU Coach Rob Ash: “It’s outstanding to have a legacy player from a hometown state championship team, but more important than that John has very good skill set and pass-catching ability to be a good contributor at wide receiver.”
Koni Dole, LB
6-1, 201, Fr, Huntley Project, MT (Huntley Project)
Player Notes: Played his senior season with a prosthetic leg after a devastating injury cost him in right leg below the knee during his junior season… … chosen for the Montana East-West Shrine Game.
From MSU Coach Rob Ash: “Koni is one of the most courageous athletes that I’ve ever known. He is a super-tough, dedicated, multi-sport athlete who is very strong and very committed. I’m looking forward to trying him out as a linebacker.”
Noah James, RB
6-1, 195, Fr, Kalispell (Glacier)
Player Notes: Earned All-State Class AA honors while leading Kalispell Glacier to the 2013 state championship game… rushed for 1,062 yards on 168 carries (6.3 ypc, 118.0 ypg) for Glacier… also caught 15 passes for 161 yards… chosen for 2014 Montana East-West Shrine Game… a preferred walk-on.
From MSU Coach Rob Ash: “Noah helped his team to an 11-2 record as a strong, powerful running back and very tough linebacker. I look forward to seeing him compete as a running back.”
Hunter Mahlum, WR/DB
6-2, 185, Fr, Missoula (Hellgate)
Player Notes: Earned all-state honors at Missoula Hellgate… registered 107 tackles as a senior… member of Hellgate’s 2013 Class AA State Championship boys’ basketball team… joins the program as a preferred walk-on.
From MSU Coach Rob Ash: “Hunter is a talented athlete from a very athletic family with a lot of Bobcat connections. He is a dedicated, tough, strong young man who is very committed.”
— MSU Sports Information