BOZEMAN — Montana State football added 12 players to its 2018 recruiting class Wednesday, adding to the 16 recruits signed in December.
Following are biographical sketches of each player, including a comment from third-year MSU coach Jeff Choate.
Blake Allred — 5-foot-11, 200-pound FB — Billings (Senior)
Summing up Allred: Earned Class AA All-State first-team hoonrs as a linebacker and 2nd team plaudits as a fullback... All-USA Today Montana Football second-team choice at linebacker... selected for the Montana Shrine Game, and played on a two-time state title team at Senior.
What Choate said: “Blake was a really crucial and versatile member of the Billings Senior back-to-back state championship run, a guy that played linebacker and fullback. He’ll start on the offensive side of the ball here because he really fits what we’re doing and our commitment to the run game. He’s a guy that I think is a great fit for the Bobcats.”
Ryan Barkley — 6-5, 275 OL — Durango, Colorado
Summing up Barkley: Named Max Prep All-State second team... lettered in football and lacrosse at Durango... helped lead his squad to the state quarterfinals.
What Choate said: “(Ryan is) a young man that comes to us from Durango, Colorado, and is a great piece of clay. he’s 6-4, around 270 lbs, and I feel like he’s a guy who really fits Montana State. He’s the right fit academically and I think he’ll come in and provide depth on the offensive line. I’m very excited about Ryan and I’m glad he’s part of this program.”
Seer Deines — 6-3, 270 DL — Connell, Washington
Summing up Deines: Earned 2017 All-Area team in the Tri-Cities... helped lead Connell to the state playoffs as a senior... nominated to USA Today All-State team... sll-state in the shot put.
What Choate said: “Seer is a guy who came to our camp and really stood out. Coach (Byron) Hout locked into him and did a great job of continuing to recruit him. He had a great official visit and was recruited by Eastern Washington, but stuck with the Bobcats. I feel like he’s a guy who will provide depth and competition as an interior defensive lineman.”
Koby Duru — 6-2, 195 WR — La Puente, California (Bishop Amat)
Summing up Duru: Two-year varsity letterwinner at Bishop Amat... two-star recruit, helped lead his squad to the state playoffs... caught 23 passes for 370 yards and six touchdowns as a senior.
What Choate said: “Koby’s another Trinity League kid. A former player of ours at Boise State’s wife is the athletic academic coordinator at Bishop Amat, and she sent us an email saying she thought people were missing on this kid. I turned the film on and it was clear he’s a very dynamic athlete, has not played a ton of football but has produced very well. He has excellent speed, a very good catch radius, is a strong kid, and I think will have an impact for us on the vertical passing game, in particular.”
Greg Filer III — 6-0, 170 CB — Compton, California (Compton College)
Summing up Filer: Unanimous All-American Metro League first-team and All-California Region IV first-team choice... picked off five passes at Compton, with 39 tackles and a forced fumble.
What Choate said: “Greg comes from Compton Community College and played his high school football at Paramount, where the Gibson brothers (early MSU signees Ty’Rese and Ty’Rhae) are from, and he came onto our radar as having the ability to feel a need at corner. Six-foot corners don’t grow on trees, he has excellent top-end speed, he comes from a system where he played a lot of man-to-man and you can see his skills there. He can play press, he can play off, he has good recovery speed. He’s a half-brother of John Ross who played for us at Washington, so there’s a connection there. He’s another guy who’s a really good fit, he has his head screwed on straight, and we’re hoping he’ll come in and compete for playing time immediately at corner.”
Isaiah Ifanse — 5-10, 190 RB — Bellevue, Washington (Bellevue)
Summing up Ifanse: Washington’s 2017 Gatorade Player of the Year... a three-star recruit who led his squad to the state semifinals... rushed for 2,485 yards as a senior, with 44 touchdowns... also logged 35 tackles.
What Choate said: “Isaiah all the way around is the right cat. He was the Gatorade Player of the Year in the state of Washington, and one of the more productive running backs in a long line of productive running backs at Bellevue High School. He has great vision and balance, excellent top end (speed), he’s a high-character young man, and I feel like with the amount of times we hand the ball off in our offense we can’t have enough quality running backs. I believe he has a bright future here.”
Donny Long — 6-3, 280 OL — Norco, California (Norco)
Summing up Long: A first-team All-Big 8 lineman who helped lead Norco to the state quarterfinals... two-year starter with 86 pancake blocks... voted Norco’s offensive MVP by his teammates.
What Choate said: “Donny is from a great high school program, and he’s an excellent athlete. He played basketball, he can dunk it, he’s got a lot of upside. He’s very physical, he shows his willingness to block in a variety of different settings. He’s an excellent run blocker but he’s also athletic and light on his feet, he can be a pass blocker, he pulls. I think he fits into our scheme very well. He can plug in at the guard position immediately, and he can snap, so that adds value to him as a guy that could potentially play center. He was recruited by Arizona State down the stretch but he stuck to his commitment with us and we’re very excited about his future.”
Mekhi Metcalf — 6-4, 180 WR — Seattle (Garfield)
Summing up Metcalf: A three-star recruit at Garfield, where he starred in football and basketball... played football for Bobcat great Joey Thomas... helped lead his team to the state semifinals in 2017... caught 78 passes for 1,038 yards and five touchdowns in his career.
What Choate said: “A long, rangy receiver, we see Mekhi in the mold of a Jabarri Johnson type of body, a Mitch Herbert type of body, a long athletic guy with a tremendous catch radius. He lined up opposite the Washington player of the year so he maybe didn’t get as many targets as he’d like, but he’s a guy who’s just scratching the surface. I feel like he’s a steal, his best football is definitely in front of him, and he comes from great bloodlines, with both his father and his grandfather (Terry) playing NFL football.”
Treyton Pickering — 6-4, 220 TE — Sunburst (Sunburst)
Summing up Pickering: Earned Class C 6-Man first-team All-State honors, and was named to the Great Falls Tribune Superstate squad... chosen for the Montana Shrine Game and the MonDak all-star game... a Six-Man All-Star Game choice, and a 2017 Class C All-State pick in hoops.
What Choate said: “Treyton Pickering is a kid who played 6-Man football, came to our camp, has been on our radar for a long time. I think BJ Robertson did a great job developing a relationship with this young man. He’ll continue to mature and grow and I think he’ll fit in and be a developmental tight end for us. We’re excited about his future. He is one of those Montana kids that is a great fit in terms of what he wants to do academically and his ability to fit into our campus community and add value to our football roster.”
Malik Putney — 6-0, 200 S — Tacoma, Washington (Eastside Catholic)
Summing up Putney: A consensus three-star recruit with 12 career interceptions, returning one 100 yards for a touchdown... returned eight punts for touchdowns as a senior... four-year starter at Eastside Catholic for former Bobcat assistant Jeremy Thielbahr, where his teams lost just three games... three-time Metro League champions with two Class 3A Washington State titles.
What Choate said: “Malik Putney is kind of an alpha dog, I really like this kid. He loves football. He’s from a very good, productive high school program at Eastside Catholic, where he played for former Bobcat assistant Jeremy Thielbahr. He’s a guy with a high, high football IQ, tremendous vision, sees the field very well, has great instincts, is physical, dynamic when he has the ball in his hands whether it’s as a running back or a punt returner, and I think he’s a guy who has the right mindset and mentality to be an all-Big Sky type of safety down the road.”
Sherod White — 5-10, 175 TB — Menifee, California (Heritage)
Summing up White: A three-year starter who led his team to a Sunbelt League title and state semifinals with an 11-2 record... three-star recruit who compiled over 1,400 yards and 20 touchdowns as a senior... averaged 9.6 yards a carry.
What Choate said: “Sherod is a true speed athlete. He is from Heritage High School, another very, very good program in southern California. This guy is dynamic with the ball in his hands, he can make people miss, he’s got great short-area quickness, and he’s got a true top end. We can split him out in the slot, hand him the ball in the backfield, use him on speed sweeps, he has value as a kick returner. I’m excited about his future and am really looking forward to him becoming a Bobcat.”
James Williams — 5-10, 305 NT — Aledo, Texas (Aledo)
Summing up Williams: Defensive MVP of 2016 state championship team... led Aledo to 2017 state championship game and 15-1 record... four-year starter who compiled 121 solo tackles, 214 total tackles, 30 tackles-for-loss, 16.5 sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
What Choate said: “James Williams is a winner. He’s from Aledo High School, which has won multiple state championships and competed for multiple state championships throughout his career. He anchored the interior of their defensive line, his film is phenomenal, he was probably been missed on by some of the bigger schools because of his size. He’s not a tall guy but he’s extremely strong and powerful, has tremendous short-area quickness, he’s a true two gap nose and with Tucker (Yates) walking out the door a year from now he’s a guy we think can give us some quality reps and anchor the interior of our defensive line down the road.”
Nolan Askelson, LB, Billings Senior: Askelson played both offense and defense while helping Senior win back-to-back state championships. He was named Class AA’s defensive MVP in 2017. In-state recruiting head (and special teams coach) B.J. Robertson said Askelson was drawn to MSU to study engineering.
Lane Sumner, RB, Huntley Project: The speedy Sumner rushed for 1,592 yards and 15 TDs in the fall, including a 234-yard, two-touchdown effort at Bobcat Stadium against Missoula Loyola in August. Sumner stands just 5-8, but does not lack a physical streak and can break tackles.
Logan Kleinhans, WR, Bozeman: He caught 48 passes for 748 yards and five touchdowns this past fall. Robertson said Kleinhans’ can also excel on special teams as a returner. “He has the ability to take it the distance,” Robertson said.
Jory Choate, LB, Bozeman: The coach’s son, Choate is the only preferred walk-on on the list. He led Class AA in both sacks and tackles for loss but did not receive a scholarship, to which Jeff Choate said, “If we weren’t talking about my son, he might be signing something. I think he’s one of the top 15 players in the state and there’s no question about it.”
Kaleb Winterburn, DB, Helena: Winterburn accounted for 43 career touchdowns and quarterbacked Helena to the state title game in the fall, but he is projected to play defensive back for the Bobcats. “Longer frame, measures out well, long arms, going to be an outstanding defender for us,” Robertson said.
Joe McElroy, TE, Missoula Loyola: McElroy played both offense and defensive line in high school, but profiles as a tight end at MSU. Said Robertson: “We’re looking at him to transition (to tight end). If you see him play basketball you can see he has great, soft hands.”
Mark Estes, WR, Kalispell Glacier: Originally an 8-Man player at Drummond, Estes transferred to Glacier for his senior season. Robertson commented on Estes’ speed — he’s a state sprinting champion — and his ability to blow the top off the defense.
Casey Bauman, QB, Everson, Washington: Bauman is listed at 6-6 and 225 pounds. He accounted for 42 touchdowns as a senior at Nooksack Valley High. Recruiting coordinator Michael Pitre said Bauman “is a big-time athlete” who averages 25 points per game in basketball.
Justin Cauley, RB, Venice, California: He rushed for 1,500 yards and 22 TDs as a senior. Cauley’s running prowess is obvious, but Pitre said MSU was also attracted to his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield.
Ty’Rese and Ty’Rhae Gibson, DBs, Lawndale, California: Pitre said MSU had been recruiting the Gibson twins for a year and a half. “They’re coming in and playing as (defensive backs) but obviously those guys can play on either side of the ball because of their skill set,” Pitre said.
Derryk Snell, TE, Anchorage, Alaska: Snell attended camp at MSU and was sold immediately, Pitre said. Snell’s versatility stands out for the Bobcats’ coaches, which added up to him being named the Gatorade player of the year in Alaska.
A breakdown of the Bobcats’ transfer additions:
Travis Jonsen, QB, Riverside CC: Jonsen started his career at Oregon, lost the Ducks’ starting job to MSU transfer Dakota Prukop in 2016 and eventually landed in the junior college ranks. Choate said Jonsen immediately boosts the competition level for Chris Murray and the Bobcats’ other quarterbacks.
Tyler Natee, RB, Indiana: Natee did not see the field for the Hoosiers last season but appeared in 10 games as a true freshman in 2016 and earned all-freshman honors in the Big Ten. Choate said Natee’s arrival may allow Troy Andersen to be more of a full-time defensive player.
Bryce Sterk, DE, Washington: The Bobcats need immediate help on the pass rush, and Choate said Sterk, who only played two games in three years for the Huskies, fits that bill. Choate recruited Sterk to Washington when he was an assistant coach there. Sterk “is a big dude that can run,” Choate said.
Tristan Bailey, K, Coffeyville CC: Choate said Bailey, who began his career at the University of Wyoming, has a big leg and can be a weapon for MSU on kickoffs and increase competition and depth on placements.