I’m a little late getting around to this -- I was going to write this last week right after the Midland Roundtable Athlete of the Year banquet, but other assignments got in the way. At any rate, here are some thoughts on Bobcats football recruit Jacob Stanton:
- In Stanton, I think MSU has a real gem coming this fall. For the past four years Stanton has been one of the top athletes at Billings Central, a school that has risen to a whole other level of sports success in the last seven years or so. It came is no surprise that Stanton won the Midland Roundtable AOTY award last Wednesday, an honor handed out every year to the top Billings athlete.
- As a high school football player, Stanton was a jack of all trades, playing wide receiver, defensive back and quarterback. In his senior year he QB’d the Rams to a Class A state-title win over Dillon. But Stanton is coming to the Bobcats as a wide receiver, and it’s his best position. As a junior, Stanton had more than 800 receiving yards and 13 TDs (catching passes from redshirt freshman Griz WR Ryan Burke) and was named first-team all-state. He was coached by his dad Jim, who will be inducted into the Montana Coaches Association Hall of Fame this summer. (For what it's worth, Central's program has also produced Bobcats senior linebacker Aleksei Grosulak, as well as incoming MSU kicker Luke Daly, who could surprise in the future, too).
- Stanton’s speed is deceptive -- he might not be as fast as Burke -- and his ability to make plays on the ball stand out both on offense and defense. And he always plays big in the clutch. But perhaps more than that, Stanton is one of the toughest high school players I’ve seen in some time, playing at a high level despite ankle, back and other various bumps and bruises in his career.
- He’ll likely redshirt this fall for the Cats, and that’s a good thing. MSU is deep at receiver right now anyway, with Tanner Bleskin, Jon Ellis, Brian Flotkoetter, Nevada transfer Tanner Roderick and others in tow. No sense burning a redshirt when you don't have to.
- Keep an eye on Stanton in the coming years. He’s a level-headed kid, a terrific student and has a natural competitive drive you wouldn’t otherwise notice unless you watch him play. And he comes from a great football family. On that same note, also keep an eye on Billings Central junior-to-be Holden Ryan. Ryan, also a super athlete who can play anywhere on the field, is already getting looks from both the Bobcats and the Grizzlies. He could become one of the top recruits out of Billings for the class of 2015.