Editor’s note: Brooks Nuanez contributed to the reporting of this story. This story also includes 18 photos of Montana State’s freshmen as part of the premium content.
BOZEMAN — Just by happenstance, Jeff Choate stood next to Seer Deines during the first team meeting leading up to Montana State’s 2018 fall football camp.
As has been Choate’s custom during the last two-plus years at MSU, he had each of his players stand up and introduce themselves. Because Deines, a true freshman defensive lineman from tiny Connell, Washington, was closest to the head coach, Choate had him go first.
“I would normally never have a freshman go first,” Choate said. “He was just fine.
“I said to him, ‘Pretty impressive for a freshman, but considering you are 36 years old, it’s really not that big a deal’ (laughs). I hope they don’t ask for a birth certificate.”
At 6-foot-3, 270 pounds with a beard and frame that belies that of teenager, the former state champion wrestler and standout two-way prep football star has been a standout during MSU’s recently completed camp.
“He’s been very, very impressive and is one of the freshman to me that has really jumped out,” Choate said. “Especially because he played at a lower level, a (Montana) Class B type level in Connell, Washington and he’s done a really nice job.
“We call him Mongo. He’s an impressive dude, now. I mean, holy cow, his calves are like this big around (displays circle with hands not touching).”