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Montana State head coach Brent Vigen discusses his first recruiting class

Montana State head coach Brent Vigen discusses his first recruiting class
Posted at 6:05 PM, Dec 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-15 20:05:25-05

BOZEMAN — It was National Signing Day across the country as athletes signed their letters of intent to continue their athletic careers. For Montana State head coach Brent Vigen, the 2022 class is his first as a head coach.

The first player that committed to the program was Bozeman Gallatin tight end Rylan Schlepp. He is one of 12 recruits out of Montana.

“I was able to see him quite a bit this fall and he certainly followed up what we though of him this summer with a great year," Vigen said. "He’s a physical, athletic tight end that can catch the ball really well and very unselfish at the same time. I think he’s got great leadership qualities as well.”

Ethan Abbott out of Florence-Carlton is slated to play defensive line for the Bobcats. The coaching staff likes the grit he brings to the position.

“He’s got a defensive mindset," said Vigen. "Very aggressive. Has a violent nature to his game. We intend on playing Ethan on the defensive side interior wise. He’s got the combination of a large frame, good athleticism, really good motor and we’re really excited about what Ethan will bring to that interior defensive line.”

Billings West was well represented having four players sign to play with the Bobcats. Caden and Taco Dowler, Max Kimball and Max Murphy will be wearing an MSU uniform next year, which is a testament to Gold Bears head coach Rob Stanton’s program.

“Once you’ve laid that foundation and you continue to feed it, like I think they have over there, the product is guys moving on and playing," said the MSU head coach. "I think these four, I think they bring our total up to seven Billings West guys we’ll have in the fall. Really excited about that number, because I know we’re getting kids that know how it should look, I guess, at the end of the day.”

The Butte Bulldogs had two players commit. Kicker Casey Kautzman is coming in to bring competition at the punter and kicker positions and his wide receiver teammate Dylan Snyder will be joining him. It helps that coach Arie Grey played for MSU.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get all the guys from Butte that we think that can play here year in and year out. We’re fortunate to get the two this year,” said Vigen.

Here is a rundown of every recruit signed so far:

(MONTANA STATE PRESS RELEASE)

MSU 2021-22 RECRUITING CLASS/FALL PERIOD

Ethan Abbott, DL (6-5/285/Fr/Florence, MT--Florence-Carlton)

Christian Anaya, WR (6-1/175/Fr/Chandler, AZ--Hamilton)

Caden Dowler, DB (6-0/190/Fr/Billings, MT--West)

Taco Dowler, WR (5-9/160/Fr/Billings, MT--West)

Logan Fredericksen, DE (6-3/210/Fr/Rigby, ID--Rigby)

Casey Kautzman, K (5-11/205/Fr/Butte, MT--Butte)

Max Kimball, DB (6-0/180/Fr/Billings, MT--West)

Ryan Krahe, LB (6-1/205/Fr/Great Falls, MT--Great Falls)

Burke Mastel, OL (6-4/290/Fr/Red Lodge, MT--Red Lodge)

Conner Moore, OL (6-5/260/Fr/Millbury, OH--Lake)

Max Murphy, TE (6-2/220/Fr/Billings, MT--West)

Tommy Nilson, OL (6-3/255/Fr/Missoula, MT--Hellgate)

Dru Polidore, DB (6-1/185/Fr/Katy, TX--Air Force--Tompkins)

Rylan Schlepp, TE (6-4/230/Fr/Bozeman, MT-Gallatin)

Dylan Snyder, WR (6-2/185/Fr/Butte, MT-Butte)

Jake Vigen, ATH (6-2/200/Fr/Bozeman, MT-Gallatin)

Ethan Abbott, DL

6-5, 285, Fr, Florence, MT (Florence-Carlton)

Player Notes: All-State and All-Conference on both the offensive and defensive lines as a senior... was All-State as a defensive lineman as a junior, and All-Conference on the offensive line... logged 62 total tackles, 15.0 for a loss, with six sacks, as a senior. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “We had an opportunity to see Ethan in our camp and we definitely like Ethan’s size. He’s a member of a state championship team from a really good program. He played O-line and D-line in high school, but we feel like he’s better suited for the defensive line with the way he plays, the motor, the aggression. We’re really excited about his potential.”

Christian Anaya, WR

6-1, 175, Fr, Chandler, AZ (Hamilton)

Player Notes: Earned the JD Jill Award as Arizona’s top prep receiver, catching 87 passes for 988 yards and 17 touchdowns... was his team’s offensive player of the year as a senior... three-year varsity starter. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Christian was in our camp and he really stood out that day. He has a good frame on him with great body control and consistently got himself open. He followed up our camp with a tremendous senior season in one of the better programs in Arizona. He is a complete receiver and there is opportunity for him to compete early in his time here.”

Caden Dowler, DB

6-0, 190, Fr, Billings, MT (West)

Player Notes: Earned 1st Team All-State at safety and 2nd Team All-State at receiver, landing 1st Team All-Conference honors at both positionsalso 2nd Team All-Conference as a punt returner... 848 all-purpose yards in 2021 with three interceptions, 10 total touchdowns, seven pass breakups and 50 tackles. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Caden was a two-way player at Billings West, a receiver and defensive back. He’s shown a lot of production on both sides of the ball and is just a really good football player. His leadership skills really stand out to us. He fits somewhere in our safety room right now. He has good size, so it will be interesting to see where that takes him.”

Taco Dowler, WR

5-9, 160, Fr, Billings, MT (West)

Player Notes: Montana’s Gatorade Player of the Year in 2021... 1st Team All-State as a receiver, defensive back, kick returner and punt returner in 2021... All-Eastern AA and Offensive MVP as a junior and senior... 1st Team All-State as a receiver, defensive back and kick returner as a junior... 2nd Team All-State at receiver, defensive back and kick returner as a sophomore... holds Billings West career records with 2,752 receiving yards, 30 touchdowns, 149 catches and 4,562 all-purpose yards. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Taco was named the Gatorade Player of the Year here in Montana. He is not the same size as Caden so some people view him as undersized, but he is a dynamic player who can play slot receiver. He can be a threat downfield, on jet sweeps out in space, and in the return game. He is all of that and is tough as nails. I’m excited to have him join our program.”

Logan Frederickson, DE

6-3, 210, Fr, Rigby, ID (Rigby)

Player Notes: Earned 1st Team All-Conference and 2nd Team All-Area honors as a senior on a 5A state championship team... Honorable Mention All-State on Rigby’s 5A state runnerup team as a junior and also played for the 2019 5A state championship team... logged 110 career tackles, 12 sacks, 18 tackles-for-loss and 12 points.

From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Logan is another guy who attended our camp this summer. He played more linebacker as a junior, and we really liked how he ran. He really runs well for a kid his size with good length. We think he’s a fit for us as a defensive end and this fall he played a combination of inside backer, outside backer, and defensive end, and wherever they put him and he helped lead his team to a state championship.”

Casey Kautzman, K

5-11, 205, Fr, Butte, MT (Butte)

Player Notes: A four-year varsity letterwinner who broke into Butte High’s starting lineup during his freshman season... 1st Team All-State kicker twice, scoring 191 career points (125-135 on PATs, 22-31 on FGs, including 24-25 on PATs and 13-17 on FGs as a senior with a long of 51 yards)... also 2nd Team All-Conference honors at punter... was his team’s special teams player of the year twice, breaking every school kicking record but one. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Casey is a guy that BJ (Robertson, former Bobcat assistant) made us aware of early in the process. He’s been kicking for Butte for four years and we had him here a couple times this summer, for team camp and for specialists camp later, and we thought he did a real good in all three areas, place-kicking, kicking off and punting. We have two young guys (at punter and kicker) right now, but Casey can come in and not only add depth but really push those guys.”

Max Kimball, DB

6-0, 180, Fr, Billings, MT (West)

Player Notes: Earned 1st Team All-State honors at linebacker, picking off six passes and breakup up 13 others in 2021... 4.08 grade point average... a Bobcat legacy, whose father Brad and uncles Doug and Bob played for the Cats. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “He’s from a Bobcat family, but moreover his play for Billings West and his versatility caught our eye. Billings West had a lot of good players, and Max is one of them. He played primarily on the defensive side but on offense, as well. He has a good nose for the ball and is a competitive kid. It will be interesting to see his development on the defensive side. He’s got a chance to continue to get bigger and stronger.”

Ryan Krahe, LB

6-1, 205, Fr, Great Falls, MT (Great Falls)

Player Notes: Rushed for 1,626 yards and 12 touchdowns on 277 carries in his prep career, adding 587 yards and five scores as a receiver, according to MaxPreps.com... logged 204 total tackles, 27 for a loss... his father Matt Krahe played for the Bobcats. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Ryan was a running back linebacker at Great Falls High, and we see him as a linebacker, but he clearly was a guy for them who made a lot of plays on both sides of the ball. He was good with the ball in his hands. We want our linebackers to be physical football players who can move, and Ryan has those qualifites.”

Burke Mastel, OL

6-4, 290, Fr, Red Lodge, MT (Red Lodge)

Player Notes: Two-time first team all-conference selection on the offensive and defensive lines... all-state defensive lineman as a senior. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Burke was another small town kid from Class B Red Lodge who we really liked in our camp. He has good athleticism for his frame and this fall we saw him continue to take game to a new level. He continued to play on both sides of the ball, but we see his fit for us on the offensive side. He has the potential to play inside or out, and we like guys who came here with that flexibility.”

Conner Moore, OL

6-5, 260, Fr, Millbury, OH (Lake)

Player Notes: Division 5 2nd Team All-Ohio and 1st Team All-District as a senior... Lineman of the Year and 1st Team All-NBC honors. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Conner is another out-of-state guy that we were fortunate to have our here at our camp out of Ohio. He was very effective on both sides of the ball and has really good length and growth potential. He’s only scratched the surface of where can get to size-wise and he has the chance to be and athletic, physical player for us.”

Max Murphy, TE

6-2, 220, Fr, Billings, MT West)

Player Notes: Earned 1st Team All-State honors twice on offense and once at linebacker... 51 solo tackles and 99 total as a senior, with 10.5 for a loss, four sacks, and one fumble recovered... scored three touchdowns and helped his team rush for 2,450 yards and throw for 2,582 more. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Max is another two-way player from Billings West. He played H-back and linebacker for them and is very physical on both sides of the football. We are leaning towards playing him at fullback. He has good size and athleticism and he really enjoys the physical side of the game, which fits the profile for the fullback position.”

Tommy Nilson, OL

6-3, 255, Fr, Missoula, MT (Hellgate)

Player Notes: Earned 2nd Team All-State and 1st Team All-Conference honors as an offensive lineman, Honorable Mention All-State and 2nd Team All-Conference honors on the defensive line... four-time Academic All-State... all-state in the shot put and all-conference in the discus, as well, . From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Hellgate High was here at our team camp, and Tommy was a two-way lineman who showed up on both sides of the football. We feel he is an athletic O-lineman with the type of frame and growth potential we’re looking for to grow into that position. He wants to study engineering, so that fell into place.”

Dru Polidore, DB

6-1, 185, Fr, Katy, TX (Air Force/Tompkins)

Player Notes: Transfers to MSU with four years of eligibility after redshirting at Air Force in 2021... Houston Touchdown Club Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 2020... 2nd Team All-Houston defensive back, UIL 19-6A 1st Team as a senior, when he also earned All-State Academic Honorable Mention. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Dru is a defensive back, a corner, who has really good length. Montana State recruited him out of high school, as well as Coach (Freddie) Banks, so we were familiar with him and he was familiar with Montana State. He was looking for a different opportunity and things really lined up well. He has position versatility, but we really like him as longer, bigger corner.”

Rylan Schlepp, TE

6-4, 230, Fr, Bozeman, MT (Gallatin)

Player Notes: As a senior logged 41 passes for 568 yards and 11 touchdowns, earning 1st Team All-State and All-Conference honors... caught 31 passes for 489 yards and six touchdowns as a junior... 2nd Team All-State and 1st Team All-Conference tight end as a senior... two-time academic all-state choice... 3.842 weighted GPA. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Rylan was a kid who was definitely on the radar right when I got here. He came to team camp this summer and really showed a knack for playing the TE position. He is a really good, physical blocker and athletically as a route runner & pass catcher. I had the good fortune of seeing him play a lot this summer and some this fall and felt the same. All the combinations of skills you need at the tight end position he possesses. ”

Dylan Snyder, WR

6-2, 185, Fr, Butte, MT (Butte)

Player Notes: Earned 1st Team All-State defensive honors as Athlete and 2nd Team All-State honors at receiver... 850 all-purpose yards as a senior... an accomplished track athlete, finishing sixth in the state high jump competition and fifth in the long jump. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Another camp kid, Dylan is a good sized receiver right now. I think he’s had to overcome some things injury-wise but was very productive this fall for Butte. He has that combination for a receiver that we like because he runs well, has very good hands and has a physical nature to his game, as well.”

Jake Vigen, ATH

6-2, 200, Fr, Bozeman, MT (Gallatin)

Player Notes: Earned Honorable Mention All-State and 2nd Team All-Conference honors as a defensive end... logged 45 tackles, including 32 solo stops, with 15 tackles-for-loss, four sacks, three fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles for Gallatin High... the son of Bobcat head coach Brent Vigen. From MSU Coach Brent Vigen: “Jake played quarterback up until this year and played on the defensive line this fall. He showed us that he is a really good football player beyond being a quarterback and his motor continued to stand out. That opened our eyes that he can play a bunch of different places for us.”