Bryce Leighton is the first Under Armour All-American to ever sign a National Letter of Intent with Montana State. And the saga of his recruitment from Camas, Washington to Bozeman, Montana is a testament to the progress of MSU as a university and the acumen of Bobcat head coach Jeff Choate and his staff as recruiters.
Choate has put a priority on recruiting Western Washington since taking over as the head coach at Montana State before the 2016 season. The former Washington Huskies’ defensive line coach had connections at some of the best programs on the Westside of Washington, including in Camas, one of Washington Class 4A’s powerhouse programs and the classification’s state champs during the 2019 season.
So Leighton, Camas’s all-state punter, was on Choate and his coaching staff’s radar pretty early on in the spring after Leighton’s junior football season.
When Leighton was on his way to attend a camp at Penn State late in the spring of 2019, he received a call from MSU director of high school operations B.J. Robertson.
“That was the first time I really thought about Montana State,” Leighton said.
MSU extended in invitation to Leighton to attend MSU’s individual camp. It happened to be the same dates as the Kohl’s Kicking Camp’s final stop in Orlando, Florida for a national showcase of kicking and punting specialists. At that gathering, Leighton thrived, winning the punting competition and earning an invite to the Under Armour game.
Leighton still managed to make an unofficial visit with his dad to Bozeman during the summer of 2019 before he attended the Kohl’s showcase or earned an invite to the most prestigious high school football all-star game in the country. That was the first hook that helped lure him to Montana State.