BOZEMAN — Wilson Brott’s breakout moment came Sept. 23 during Montana State’s 49-21 victory over North Dakota, when he caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Chris Murray to put the Bobcats ahead by three possessions.
It was the first catch in a career full of shifts and fluctuations, but one Brott says validated the years he’d spent working to find a niche with the Bobcats.
“That touchdown definitely made me feel like I was helping the team,” said Brott, a junior tight end. “I was really happy that the coaches had enough trust in me to run that play and get me the ball.”
Brott’s younger brother Mitch, MSU’s starting right tackle, made key contributions against North Dakota, as well, opening holes for a 341-yard rushing performance and by blocking a first-quarter field goal that helped shape momentum.
Mitch Brott is already a well-established member of the Bobcats’ offensive line: Last year he was named a first-team freshman All-American by Hero Sports. But if you think he’s hanging his hat on that single accolade, think again.
“It’s something to be excited about, but in a sense it keeps me humble,” he said. “I want to make an actual All-America list, not just a freshman one. So I’m always striving for that. I don’t want to be content with that. I want to keep going.”
Wilson is the laid-back Brott. Mitch is more intense. Individually, the brothers have taken contrasting roads to noteriety.
But together they bring what second-year coach Jeff Choate described as a ‘yin and yang’ dynamic to the Montana State football program. Choate can’t help but grin when talking about the paradoxical siblings from Billings.
“They’re different guys. Wilson is a little bit more easygoing. Great teammate. Everybody loves Wilson,” Choate said. “Mitch — there’s angry Mitch and there’s happy Mitch, and you’ve just got to kind of know.
“I laugh when I see them lined up next to each other. I can just see if Wilson doesn’t do what Mitch thinks he ought to do, Mitch looking at Wilson and (them) getting into an argument and us having to call a timeout because we can’t get the play off. We haven’t had that happen yet ... .”
Carving a niche
Wilson Brott has had a nomadic presence on Montana State’s roster. After spending his career at Billings West High School as a quarterback, Brott came to MSU to play tight end in the fall of 2014.
He spent his first two seasons with the program in that spot, but when Choate and a new coaching staff took over in 2015 Brott was eventually moved to tackle. His weight peaked at 283 pounds.
Brott remained at tackle last spring but was eventually moved back to tight end during the summer.
“It’s been hard, just going from eating a lot to trying to figure out how to eat less again,” said Brott, who is now down to roughly 265 pounds. “But being a blocking tight end it’s pretty similar. I’d say the transition isn’t overly hard with that. Playing tackle got me a lot better with blocking for sure.”
The primary function of MSU’s tight ends this season has been to block. Brott, Connor Sullivan and Curtis Amos have just three catches between them.
Brott, often lining up next to his younger brother, has thus far succeeded as a lane-clearing menace, and the Bobcats’ ground game ranks No. 1 in the Big Sky Conference at 250.6 rushing yards per game.
“Wilson is a guy who was a quarterback, came here and walked on and had to really work hard to find his role but has persisted through it,” Choate said. “He’s probably one of the more popular guys on the team. The kids love him. I’m really happy for his success, and I think that speaks to his buying into what his role is.”
Mitch Brott was a 200-pound tight end during his junior season at West High. He’d resigned himself to the notion that he would end up playing basketball somewhere in the Frontier Conference.
Then, a growth spurt. Brott started filling out and garnering interest from the Bobcats (among other schools). The Brotts always had a dream of playing college sports together, and when Mitch reported to camp at MSU in the fall of 2015 it came to fruition.
“We’ve always been close growing up, so it’s nothing new,” Mitch Brott said. “But it’s kind of special having your brother on the team. We can always get mad at each other and it’s never going to affect how we play. There’s always that outlet. It’s a brotherly love kind of thing.”
Mitch Brott brings a certain level of nastiness to the right tackle position. Though he says he’s growing out of it, Brott admits he’s prone to an on-field outburst, particularly when the channels of communication become scrambled on offense.
As Choate suggested, there are times when you don’t quite know what mood you’ll catch him in. Those personality shifts precede Brott’s intensity.
“Mitch is just a really serious guy. I’m focused but he takes everything really seriously,” Wilson said. “Sometimes it’s hard to get a smile out of him depending on the day and how much sleep he got.”
“I have my moments on the field where I get quite angry at some stuff and kind of lose it,” Mitch said. “I’m pretty good at keeping it on the field, but people do say that I’m two different people when it comes to football.”
Brott is now 6-foot-6 and 290 pounds and a bedrock of the Bobcats’ line that wants to be known as much for its finesse as its physicality. But it’s a balancing act.
MSU’s offensive front looks to have much success this week on the road at No. 10 Eastern Washington.
“We’re more of a running-based team. We want our offensive linemen to be more athletic than big,” Mitch Brott said. “We want to be able to run down field and block the secondary and not just be content with moving the linemen sideways.
"I think toughness and physicality have a huge role in producing yardage for our offense.”