Game Day

Emergence of freshman OT Session a boost for Bobcats

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Montana State offensive tackle TJ Session is proof that good things come to those who wait, and wait, and then wait a little more.

Like most current college athletes, Session had to sit through the down time of the COVID-19 year, but prior to that he also had to sit through an injury year.  Finally, in 2021, his time has come and knowing what he now knows, he’s making the best of it.

Prior to the 2019 season, Session was making jaws drop around the MSU practice fields and had appeared to earn a spot on the MSU 2-deep as a true freshman offensive tackle.  Then, perhaps the last person you’d ever want to fall on you in any way, MSU reserve defensive tackle Tua Areta – all 380 pounds of him – was blocked into Session’s leg causing massive damage.

Session not only tore his ACL, MCL and meniscus, but also dislocated his kneecap and his tibia was moved over to the left of where it normally sits.  An injury that a couple decades ago would be the end of an athlete’s career.

The event was an eye-opener for the rookie out of Vista Murrieta High School in Menifee, Calif. When he finally took the field against the University of Wyoming it was his first game in nearly three years.

“Not everybody has a chance to go D-I in football and your last play could be like this (snaps fingers), just like that it could be over,” Session said. “Going through that, it really hit home to me that football doesn’t have a time period. It can end at any time.”

The injury would wipe out the 2019 season for Session, and probably would’ve been detrimental to his 2020 season, but then COVID came along and, while it put football on hold everyone, it may have been a bit of a blessing as it gave him an extra year to fully rehab the injury.

Montana State offensive tackles T.J. Session (72) and Lewis Kidd (76)/ by Brooks Nuanez

Obviously, the therapy he used was effective.  Still a freshman athletically, Session is the starting right tackle for the Bobcats.  Offensive line units are among the tightest in all of sport and things are no different at MSU. The Bobcats returned a solid core of lineman from 2019 in Lewis Kidd, Taylor Tuiasosopo and Zack Redd, along with tight ends Derryk Snell and Ryan Davis, who Session credits for his development. And the emergence of the freshman has been a key after the transfer

“Those older guys are hard workers,” Session said. “All they do is get into their notebooks, attend meetings, stay after practice, ask questions. Even on the field, asking questions, critiquing younger guys. They really care about this program, and they care about the younger guys in general.”

Session also needs to go up against two of the best defensive ends in the Big Sky Conference in teammates Daniel Hardy and Amandre Williams, an All-Big Sky performer in 2019, every day in practice.

“Right now, Daniel Hardy is amazing, he’s a next level, NFL guy,” Session said.  “Going against him and Amandre has made me a better player, helped me with my feet, helped me with my punch.  There are no plays off with them, they go hard every single play.  Not just me, they make everyone better. They have meat on their minds.”

Session was a little under the radar coming out of high school despite earning first team all-league, first team all-area, and Division I All-CIF honors in 2018.

“I was in class in high school and (MSU assistant) coach (Brian) Armstrong came up to my coach, coach (Eric) Petersen, and asked him about an offensive lineman on our team,” Session said. “My coach told him, ‘I actually have someone better than that,’ which is me, so they called me up to the office and I met coach Armstrong.”

Session went on a visit to MSU and had an offer from Fresno State.  Initially MSU offered him a 70 percent partial scholarship, but later bumped that up to a full-ride and he committed on the spot.

Montana State freshman offensive tackle T.J. Session/ by Brooks Nuanez

The rollercoaster appears to be well behind him as Session has started every game this season and he’s now a key part in one of the most productive offenses in the nation. 

MSU has the top-rated rushing attack in the conference in terms of yards per game (216.7) and yards per carry (5.2). The Bobcats are the second rated offense in the league in scoring (34.4) and pass efficiency (170.0). MSU is sitting just fourth in total offense, but that number is deceptive as the Bobcats are second in yards per play at 6.5.

Session’s contributions now and in the future has Montana State offensive coordinator Taylor Housewright drooling.

“He’s getting better every week,” Housewright said. “And that’s what’s important as a lineman. I mean, it’s a position where just reps and reps and reps and seeing different things, just, you know, it takes time to master.

“It’s hard now, even in the NFL, some of those athletes, so every week, he’s getting better. And he’s got a high ceiling, and he’s a great kid and wants to work hard and very motivated. So the future is very, very bright for him.”

The Bobcats will roll into this week’s game against Idaho State undefeated in the Big Sky at 4-0 and 6-1 overall with the No. 8 ranking in the STATS FCS poll. 

About Thomas Stuber

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