Before Jack Galt reached middle school, he had the pleasure of sitting next to one of the greatest Bobcats of all time during the Triangle Classic fundraiser banquet in Great Falls.
That evening close to a decade ago, the White Sulphur Springs native enjoyed the company of Cody Kirk, a three-time All-Big Sky Conference selection at tailback, the second-leading rusher in Montana State history and one of the most genuine Bobcats of the modern era.
The impression stuck with Galt, already a self-proclaimed Bobcat fan whose family had season tickets. The interaction and influence of Kirk helped motivate Galt to chase his dreams.
“He gave me his phone number that night and texted me, which to me was like, ‘Holy cow, I have the MSU Bobcats running back’s phone number, this is crazy,’” Galt said in a phone interview earlier this spring. “We kept talking and he was the one who sparked that want to be a Bobcat someday.
“After that, I started going to the Bobcat camp and went to every game. I knew that I wanted to be a Bobcat and Cody played a huge part of that.”
White Sulphur Springs has been far from a Division I hot bed. In fact, only one previous Bobcat hailed from the Montana Class C school. But in February, Galt signed an admissions waiver to join Montana State as a preferred walk-on.
“A lot of people, when they get recruited as a walk-on, they might lose a little hope but when I tell people that I’m a walk-on, people tell stories about players, even a couple of NFL players who started as walk-ons,” Galt said. “If you just work hard — and that’s what I want to do at Montana State is work hard and earn my keep — and four years is going to fly by. It’s up to me to see what I can do in that time.”
The 6-foot-1, 210-pounder will either play fullback or linebacker for the Bobcats. As a senior at White Sulphur Springs, he logged 33.5 tackles playing mostly end at the Class C 6-man level. He also played end offensively, helping the team to the league title as a junior.
“Jack is a tough kid and a good athlete, and he’s had his sights set on this opportunity for some time,” Montana State fourth-year head coach Jeff Choate said on National Signing Day. “I’m excited for him to get this opportunity, and look forward to watching his development.”
In 6-man, playing end is “basically like playing receiver, guard and running back all at once,” Galt said. Because of the diversity required, he said he feels comfortable playing any position the MSU coaches ask him.
Galt first landed on Montana State’s radar during MSU’s individual camp in the summer following Galt’s junior year. MSU director of high school relations B.J. Robertson expressed interest, then started recruiting Galt midway through Galt’s senior football season.
Schools like Division II Black Hills State and Division III Concordia College offered scholarship money. But Galt’s goal to become a Bobcat since Kirk planted the seed combined with MSU’s highly regarded farm and ranch management degree helped lure Galt to Bozeman.
“I love the ranch lifestyle so I think MSU is a great fit to help me achieve my goals and become more knowledgeable,” said Galt, who grew up on a cattle ranch outside White Sulphur. “After football and college is over, I think that’s probably what I’m going to do.”
Bozeman, Montana’s most booming city, also provided a draw. Galt said he knew he always wanted to live in the Gallatin Valley someday, even if for a period of time.
And the vision of Choate’s program, communicated to Galt by Robertson, also proved to be a huge selling point in Galt’s college decision.
“As far as the program goes, the expectation of the team, they expect so much out of us and I can’t ever recall a Bobcat football player who I ever knew who was anything but an exceptional person,” Galt said. “The standard that the ‘Cats have of academics and sportsmanship, athletics and being a good person is one of the reasons I like it so much. A lot of the stereotypical football players isn’t what you see here at Montana State. It’s a different breed of players and different breed of people here.”
Six-man stars have been few and far between both in earning opportunities at the Division I level and in turning those opportunities into success. But Galt is eager to take his newest challenge head on as he continues striving to turn his Division I dreams into a reality.
“There has been one, maybe two college football players that came out of White Sulphur and I don’t know if there’s ever been a Division I,” Galt said. “The reaction around town is people are excited. It’s going to put White Sulphur on the map, I hope. People are going to hopefully know where I’m from and that I came from a small school. Around town, people are excited.
“It’s been something I’ve wanted since I was knee-high. When I was really little in elementary school meeting Cody Kirk, I knew that was something I wanted and I was willing to work every day to chase that goal. When it was all said and done, it really hit me when the ‘Cats posted on their social media the pictures of all the recruits. I was like, ‘Holy cow, this is real and hard work does pay off.’
“It’s been quite a few years of early mornings in the weight room, late nights at the gym, late nights on the field. It’s real now and I just have to go seize the opportunity.”