Editor’s Note: This story is the part of a four-part mini-series that will be included in a short series on the Montana State football program despite the cancellation of spring football practices across the Big Sky Conference. Quotes provided through exclusive interviews by Skyline Sports or provided by Montana State sports information.
Spring football practices seem monotonous for upper classmen who simply want to maintain health and sanity entering the final years of their careers. But the 15 practices each spring allotted to teams across the Big Sky Conference, the FCS and college football as a whole provide important evaluation opportunities for coaching staffs across the country.
Spring football also elicits excitement among fans and a chance for media outlets like this one to observe, evaluate and analyze the composition of a roster. Many players who spent the previous season either sitting out as redshirts or waiting their turns as young players get their first live reps. And often times those reps come against some of the best players on the “varsity”.
The Montana State Bobcats won 11 games last year, advancing to the semifinals of the FCS playoffs for the first time since 1984. That team was led by a talented senior class, many who grew up in Montana, a key factor in helping MSU reach a crescendo in Jeff Choate’s fourth season at the helm.
The Bobcats return All-American do-everything senior Troy Andersen, who has earned an array of accolades on both sides of the football during his three years as a Bobcat. MSU also returns All-Big Sky Conference players like senior offensive linemen Taylor Tuiasosopo and Lewis Kidd, junior right tackle Connor Wood and junior tailback Isaiah Ifanse.
The MSU defense returns all-league tackle Chase Benson, all-conference outside linebacker/Buck end Amandre Williams plus experienced corners Munchie Filer and Tyrel Thomas, all of whom will be seniors.
But the Bobcats must replace several players who won’t soon be forgotten by those who follow MSU football. Montana State needs a new starter at left tackle after All-American Mitch Brott started 50 games in a row.
Montana State will also be in the market for a replacement for first-team all-league defenders safety Brayden Konkol and inside linebacker Josh Hill along with second-team all-league picks tackle Derek Marks and end Bryce Sterk. MSU also needs to find replacements for steady cornerback Damien Washington and athletic safety Jahque Alleyne.
Offensively, MSU returns most other than Brott and competitive, athletic captain wide receivers Kevin Kassis and Travis Jonsen.
Although Montana State’s spring football session (slated to start on March 30) has been cancelled, those within the Big Sky coaching ranks remain optimistic that the 2020 season will take place despite the world being shaken by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Here’s a look at the players Skyline Sports were most intrigued to watch during spring drills, players that will need to have good off-seasons to help Montana State continue driving forward as a national FCS force during Choate’s fifth season at the helm.