BOZEMAN — Montana State head football coach Brent Vigen places an emphasis on making homegrown players the bedrock of his program.
"We have the ability here to have our Montana guys be our foundation," said Vigen during a Wednesday press conference. "And that’s not lip service. We need guys from our state to come here and thrive on the football field."
Vigen's commitment to fostering in-state talent paid off on national signing day as the Bobcats — five days removed from a 39-18 loss to South Dakota State in the FCS semifinals — announced an early signing class of 25 players, including 12 Treasure State products.
"There’s good football, good high school football played in Montana," said Vigen. "And we’re going to continue to get the best that we can."
There's plenty of in-state talent in this crop of players. Reigning Class AA champion Helena Capital saw both Tom Carter and Talon Marsh sign with the Bobcats. Runner-up Bozeman High had two players in the recruiting class — Everett Carr and Luke Smith.
Defending two-time Class B champion Florence will also send a pair of players to MSU in Jonathan Luhmann and Patrick Duchien. Missoula Sentinel saw Adam Jones and J.J. Dolan signs with the Bobcats. Helena High's Colter Petre, Melstone's Bryce Grebe and Fairview's Hunter Sharbano are also bound for MSU.
"You know, to go to Montana State and you’re from Montana you want to make right by that opportunity," Vigen said. "So the guys are going to do whatever they can. And I think just the quality of people and the work ethic, and the fabric of our state, lends itself to guys that you want on your team."
Below are bios on Montana State's early signees per information from a Montana State media release:
Ty McCullouch, WR
6-1, 180, Jr, Moreno Valley, CA (CSU/Rancho Verde)
Player Notes: Transfers from Colorado State, where he caught 13 passes for 119 yards in 2022... tied for sixth on the team in catches and yards last fall in spite of playing only four games... played in 12 games in 2021 as a sophomore, catching 24 passes for 415 yards, both third on the team, with one touchdown... carried three times for 14 yards that season... caught one pass for eight yards in 2020... played in seven games as a freshman in 2019, with three catches for 54 yards... caught 64 passes for 1,235 yards with 21 touchdowns as a senior, helping lead Rancho Verde to the CIF Southern Section D2 Playoffs... caught 12 passes for 105 yards and one touchdown as a junior at King High School in Riverside, California in 2017. From MSU Receivers Coach Justin Udy: "We felt a strong connection to Ty right away. His older brother Andre played for Coach Armstrong at Rocky Mountain College and had a very successful career. Ty was familiar with the program and has a level of appreciation for the support that we get here at Montana State. He is exactly what we need when it comes to a guy who can stretch the field vertically. He has the ability to get over the top of the defense and plays a physical brand of football on the perimeter. When you talk to Ty you can get a sense for how competitive he is and his hunger for wanting to win. I believe he will add a level of leadership to our room and I'm excited to see his explosiveness on display in Bobcat Stadium next fall."
Blake Stillwell, DB
6-1, 190, So, Winter Garden, FL (New Mexico Military Institute/Navarro JC/West Orange HS)
Player Notes: Redshirted at New Mexico Military Institute in 2022... logged 30 tackles with 12 pass breakups and an interception at two-year Southern University-Shreveport in 2021... primarily a basketball player during his high school years From MSU Defensive Backs Coach Willie Mack Garza: "Blake and I have history from a prior school. He redshirted at New Mexico Military Institute last year, but he is from a 6A high schools in Florida and is a multi-purpose, dual-sport athlete. He's an elite basketball player, and has only played football for a couple of years so his growth potential and ceiling are tremendous. When you look at his high school and JUCO years he has unbelievable cornerback skills and athleticism, but he'll be physical and hit you. His work ethic is tremendous and we look forward to having him here."
Chance Wilson, QB
6-1, 180, Fr, (Rejoice Christian)
Player Notes: Threw for 2,050 yards with 22 touchdowns, and rushed for 683 yards with 13 touchdowns as a senior... compiled 10,254 yards of total offense with 139 total touchdowns at Rejoice Christian... earned Tulsa World 2021-22 All-World Male Athlete of the Year honors... a seven-time track and field champion in high school, with school records in 200 (21.79) and 400 (48.68) meters and three relays. From MSU Quarterbacks Coach Taylor Housewright: "Chance is a tremendous athlete and leader. He nad his family have been Bobcats from day one. Chance is highly motivated and cares about one thing and one thing only - winning."
Everett Carr, OL
6-4, 271, Fr, Bozeman, MT (Bozeman)
Player Notes: First Team All-State and All-Conference offensive tackle for Bozeman High's state runner-up squad in 2022... Second Team All-State as a junior. From MSU Offensive Line Coach Brian Armstrong: "I really like Everett's length and athletic abiity. We had him at multiple camps this summer and he really improved during that time. He is a multi-sport guy that will have position versatility, and had a very good senior season."
Tom Carter, WR
6-0, 180, Fr, Helena, MT (Capital)
Player Notes: Class AA Offensive MVP, First Team All-State and First Team All-Conference running back in 2022... 2,092 all-purpose yards and Class AA leading 1,262 rushing yards for Helena Capital, with 23 total touchdowns... also logged 54 tackles and three interceptios for the state champion Bruins... sprinter for the school's track squad, he is the reigning 200 m state champion.. his father Lee played football for the Cats, and sisters Elena and Leigha compete in track at MSU. From MSU Receivers Coach Justin Udy: "Tom bleeds blue and gold. He has grown up cheering for the Bobcats and adds elite speed and quickness to our room. He was a versatile player at Capital and was instrumental in helping them win a state championship. I was impressed with Tom this past summer at camp, he showed a level of toughness that we want to have here in our receiver room at Montana State. I can't wait to work with Tom when he gets here."
Mikey D'Amato, DB
5-11, 205, Fr, Dove Canyon, CA (Mission Viejo)
Player Notes: A three-time All-South Coast League selection... earned team defensive player of the year honors in 2022... logged 102 tackles, 16 for a loss, with four sacks and two interceptions as a senior. From MSU Defensive Backs Coach Willie Mack Garza: "Mikey D'Amato is a very good football player from one of the bigger, most competitive leagues in southern California. He came to our camp and did an unbelievable job in coverage and understanding the techniques we were asking of him in a short period of time. He's tough as nails, he's highly intelligent, has a very good football IQ, and is a playmaker who can play multiple positions. We need guys who are mentally and physically tough, and Mikey is that."
JJ Dolan, DB
6-0 175 Fr, Missoula, MT (Sentinel)
Player Notes: Earned First Team All-State and All-Conference honors as a nickel back at Sentinel... played on a pair of state title teams... 53 tackles, 10 for a loss with two sacks as a senior... also caught 13 passes for 160 yards... four touchdowns on the ground... his father Nate Dolan played football at UM as did his grandfather Pat Dolan, a renowned Montana prep football coach, and great grandfather John Dolan... his aunt Heather (Dolan) Bergeson starred in volleyball at Montana State. From MSU Defensive Backs Coach Willie Mack Garza: "JJ Dolan plays aggressive and plays fast, and he fits the mold of Bobcat Built. He's a tough kid, fundamentally sound, and is an excellent playmaker. We're always looking for playmakers."
Patrick Duchien, QB
6-2, 205, Fr, Florence, MT (Florence-Carlton)
Player Notes: Led Florence-Carlton to two straight Class B State Championships... MaxPreps named him Montana's Player of the Year in 2022... First Team All-Class B selection in 2022... threw for 2,803 yards and 31 touchdowns (five interceptions) in 2022, 2,612 yards with 35 touchdowns (six interceptions) in 2021... he rushed for 1,124 yards as a senior, 596 as a junior. From MSU Quarterbacks Coach Taylor Housewright: "When you look at the quarterback position you start with three traits: toughness, intelligence, and winner. Patrick is all of these and then some. He will come in here and make this quarterback room and this team better from the first day he is on campus."
Bryce Grebe, LB
6-0, 192, Fr, Melstone, MT (Custer-Hysham-Melstone)
Player Notes: Earned 6- Man East All-State and All-Conference honors in 2022.. also starred in basketball and track. From MSU Linebackers Coach Bobby Daly: "Bryce is very different from his brother (Brody) in a lot of ways, but very similar as far as athletic ability. What we love about Bryce is not only what he does on the football field but he's a three-sport athlete. He's excellent in basketball, he's excellent in track, and that's what caught our eye as a junior, not only his ability on the football field but his ability to move on the basketball court and how fast he is as a track athlete. Coming from six man football he's just scratching the surface as far as what he needs to know as far as 11 man football goes, but without a doubt he has the athletic ability to be a very good football player for us."
Scottre Humphrey, RB
5-11, 210, Fr, Seattle, WA (Rainier Beach)
Player Notes: Metro League Co-Offensive Player of the Year in 2022... First Team All-Metro at running back and defensive end as a sophomore, junior and senior... gained 1,900 yards on the ground as a senior, with 450 receiving yards and 26 total touchdowns... rushed for over 1,800 yards combined as a sophomore and junior, with 25 total touchdowns. From MSU Running Backs Coach Jimmy Beal: "Scottre is a powerful, dynamic runner. His ability to break tackles is so impressive. His senior year he would break three or four tackles and finish long runs, so he's going to be a dynamic runner and tackle-breaker who can also catch out of the backfield."
Cedric Jefferson, OL
6-4, 265, Fr, Temecula, CA (Chaparral)
Player Notes: Earned Second Team All-Big West Upper Division honors as a senior... two Chaparral players rushed for at least 1,000 yards... played two years of high school football. From MSU Offensive Line Coach Brian Armstrong: "Cedric is a guy that really improved between his junior and senior seasons. He hasn't played a lot of football, and he has tremendous upside. He has a great frame and athletic abiltiy, and is a very young senior. I am very excited about his potential."
Adam Jones, RB
6-1, 185, Fr, Missoula, MT (Sentinel)
Player Notes: Earned First Team All-State honors and All-Conference honors in 2022 on both offense and defense as an all-purpose player... carried 153 times for 1,029 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior... played on two Sentinel state championship teams. From MSU Running Backs Coach Jimmy Beal: "Adam Jones is a pure athlete with the ability to do multiple things for our offense. offensive versatility in high school was significant and he brings a skill set that we desire at running back. He's a true runner, and I'm excited about his ability to develop as a running back."
Javonte King, WR
6-4, 200, Fr, Blackfoot, ID (Blackfoot)
Player Notes: First Team All-State Class 4A choice in 2022... caught 71 passes for 1,168 yards and 19 touchdowns as a senior. From MSU Receivers Coach Justin Udy: "Javonte has great size and length. His ability to go up and attack the ball in the air is what separates him from other guys we recruited. He shows the ability to have great body control when he plays and knows how to put the ball in the endzone. He had a very successful career and is a well rounded athlete at Blackfoot High School. We are excited to get him up to Bozeman and have him join our Bobcat family."
Jonathan Luhmann, OL
6-3, 275, Fr, Florence, MT (Florence-Carlton)
Player Notes: Helped lead Florence-Carlton to back-to-back Class B State Championships in his two seasons of high school football. From MSU Offensive Line Coach Brian Armstrong: "Jonathan has a really good frame and growth potential. He can bend and has good athletic ability. He's a two-time state champion at Florence-Carlton and we had him at (MSU summer football) camp. He is raw, but really improved at camp and throughout his senior year. He's a very young senior."
Talon Marsh, DL
6-1, 241, Fr, Helena, MT (Capital)
Player Notes: Led Helena Capital to 2022 Class AA State Championship, logging 85 tackles, 25 for a loss, with 23 sacks... Class AA Defensive MVP and Western AA MVP... First Team All-State and All-Conference choice... won state heavyweight wrestling title as a junior. From MSU Defensive Line Coach Shawn Howe: "Talon Marsh is one of these guys who you label as a flat out good football player. I love his explosiveness and his ability to make plays. He's just a legitimately good football player."
Zac Nyland, OL
6-4, 300, Fr, Meridian, ID (Owyhee)
Player Notes: First Team All-State choice at Owyhee High in 2022. From MSU Offensive Line Coach Brian Arstrong: "Zac has a good frame and size. He can really bend, and loves to play football. I think he can play all three interior spots, and I'm excited to get him here and work with him."
Colter Petre, DB
6-1, 168, Fr, Helena, MT (Helena)
Player Notes: First Team All-State in 2022 and Second Team All-State in 2021, earning First Team All-Conference honors as a junior and senior. From MSU Defensive Backs Coach Willie Mack Garza: "Colter is a great playmaker. He led the state in interceptions (in 2021), and had a boatload of interceptions this year. He's been a two-way player, playing defensive back and wide receiver, and we're always looking for dual purpose type athletes that play defense and offense, and he's one of the top players in the state. He defines what we're looking for."
Andrew Powdrell, DB
5-10, 164, Fr, The Woodlands, TX (College Park)
Player Notes: Recorded 63 tackles as a senior in 2022, including five for a loss... intercepted one pass and broke up six others... recovered two fumbles... blocked two field goals and returned a kickoff for a touchdown. From MSU Defensive Backs Coach Willie Mack Garza: "He's a great player out of Texas, a nickel back, extremely fast, a track guy, 10.6 or 10.7 in the 100 meters. He's played multiple positions in high school, some cornerback when they needed him to guard the opponent's best wide receiver, they played him at safety when they needed him in the box, or they played him at linebacker. He's just a really good athlete with a high football IQ. He's a playmaker."
Hunter Provience, TE
6-5, 230, Fr, El Cajon, CA (Christian)
Player Notes: Earned league player of the year honors at Christian High School in 2022... caught 44 passes for 664 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior, while logging 27 tackles, three for a loss, as a defensive end... 31 catches in 2021, for 481 yards and two touchdowns, adding 26 tackles, 3.0 for a loss... named to the Prep Pigskin Report's 2022 All-51 Team as a tight end. From MSU Tight Ends Coach Tyler Walker: "Hunter is long and athletic, he moves well. He's an elite athlete for his length. He can stretch the field and go get the ball, but he's also a willing blocker attached to the line or on the edge. Hunter brings athleticism and competition to our offense."
Hunter Sharbono, DT
6-2, 235, Fr, Fairview, MT (Fairview)
Player Notes: A four-time 8-Man All-State selection who also plays basketball and competes in track... played on Fairview's state title team as a freshman in 2019, helping the Warriors advance to the semifinals this fall as a senior. From MSU Defensive Line Coach Shawn Howe: "Hunter played a lot of different spots, but is a really good football player. He is very explosive and has great playmaking ability. It will be nice to see him do just one thing. He's done so much for his high school team, and when we he's able to focus on one thing he could just explode."
Luke Smith, TE
6-5, 215, Fr, Bozeman, MT (Bozeman)
Player Notes: First Team All-State Class AA in 2022... Second Team and All-State and All-Eastern AA H Back in 2021. From MSU Tight Ends Coach Tyler Walker: "Luke is more in the category of (current tight end Derryk) Snell. He's a little slimmer and definitely has that athleticism. He catches the ball, runs well, has that stop-and-start and change of direction, but he can also put his hand on the ground and block in-line or on the perimeter. He's a good get for us, and he'll improve our tight ends room."
Dominic Solano, DE
6-4, 225, Fr, Glendale, AZ (Cactus)
Player Notes: Finished his senior season with 27.5 sacks to raise his career total to 34... he amassed 103 total tackles, 48 for a loss, helping Cactus High advance to the Class 5A championship game... logged four sacks in the title game... earned Phoenix area Defensive Lineman of the Year honors from BJ Media. From MSU Defensive Line Coach Shawn Howe: "Dom is a guy coming off of 27-and-a-half sacks this year. He is extremely explosive, extremely hard working, and is an electric pass rusher."
Cole Taylor, ATH
6-3, 205, Fr, Great Falls, MT (CM Russell)
Player Notes: Second Team All-State and First Team All-Eastern AA quarterback... broke CMR's single-game passing yards record by throwing for 401 in a game at Kalispell Glacier. From MSU Linebackers Coach Bobby Daly: "Cole Taylor was a high school quarterback who really caught our eye at camp when we had the ability to watch him move around. He's very long and runs extremely well. He hasn't played linebacker but we've had very good luck (with players from) this state in particular with taking great high school athletes and turning them into linebackers. There's a long list, most recently Callahan O'Reilly and Troy Andersen, and he fits that mold as far as length and athleticism, now we just need to get him up to speed in Xs and Os and what's expected from him as a linebacker."
Jacob Trimble, WR
6-0, 185, Fr, North Richland Hills, TX (Christian)
Player Notes: Earned First Team All-State and All-District honors... caught 73 passes for 1,178 yards and 20 touchdowns... also punted... Academic All-State as a senior, as well. From MSU Receivers Coach Justin Udy: "We are really excited to have Jacob joining us from the great state of Texas. He had a very successful high school career where he was able to showcase a number of skill sets. His short area quickness and ability to make people miss in space stood out right away. His precise route running and ball skill make him valuable in an offense where we ask guys to line up all over the field. He brings big play capability to our room and I am excited to get him on campus."
Taki Uluilakepa, DB
6-0, 170, Fr, Provo, UT (Timpview)
Player Notes: Logged 30 tackles as a senior at Timpview High in Provo, Utah, in 2022... broke up 10 passes and intercepted one... the brother of Bobcat linebacker Danny Uluilakepa. From MSU Defensive Backs Coach Willie Mack Garza: "Taki is a very good athlete. We had him in camp this summer when he primareily played cornerback and he locked down some of the best wide receivers that we had. He's long and rangy. It speaks volumes that he's a very good basketball player, and he has a very high ceiling for growth since he's only played football for a short time. He has very good ball skills and is tough like his brother Danny."