McChesney retires, Johnson likely out for the season


BOZEMAN — During his mid-spring football press conference, Jeff Choate expressed pride despite the melancholy nature of a retirement. Then the tone turned somber in announcing a detrimental injury.

On Wednesday of the final week of March, Montana State’s third-year head coach addressed the media for 23 minutes, touching on a variety of topics from his newest transfers to the planned reunion for former Bobcat football players to cap spring ball to the shuffling on MSU’s interior offensive line.

But Choate elected to start the address by announcing the retirement of Brady McChesney and the season-ending injury suffered by Jabarri Johnson this spring.

MSU quarterback Brady McChesney retired earlier this week/ by Brooks Nuanez

McChesney, a fourth-year junior quarterback from Kalispell Glacier, suffered an injury “about a week and a half ago”, according to Choate, sparking a conversation before MSU’s first scrimmage between the steady signal caller and the head coach.

The former Class AA Offensive Player of the Year led Glacier to its first Class AA state title in 2014 but has been a role player at MSU over the last three seasons. He has served as the sideline play-caller as Tyler Bruggman and Chris Murray have taken their turns under center in Choate’s first two seasons.

Brady McChesney

Starting last season, MSU has practiced in the mornings in an effort to let the players focus on academics in the evenings. In the fall semester, McChesney has classes at 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. as he closes in on his mechanical engineering degree. The injury, his spot on the depth chart and the academic conflict led to McChesney deciding to hang up his cleats, Choate said.

“He’s been in the program for all three years. He’s been really an important part of our team in ways that don’t show up in stat lines or sound bites but Brady and I came to a mutual decision that it’s probably best for him to focus on school at this point in time,” Choate said. “He’s going to be a Bobcat and he’s going to get an engineering degree from Montana State, go on to do great things and still be a part of what we are building here.

“I would’ve loved to have him stick around but he’s a young man that is very thoughtful and he has given the appropriate amount of time to make this decision and decided it was best to focus on his education. We will support him in that.”

The two-time first-team Class AA all-state selection still holds the Montana all-class record for touchdown passes in a career with 82. He threw for 6,527 yards in his high school career but threw just one pass in a game as a Bobcat.

Immediately after announcing McChesney’s retirement, Choate announced an injury that could be detrimental to MSU’s success this season. Johnson, Montana State’s leading receiver, suffered a “severe” knee injury that will require surgery that “will likely end his season.

“One that was a dark cloud over practice last week, we had a shadow tempo drill where the offense is supposed to win the drill, a 50/50 ball, Jabarri Johnson went up to go get it, came down and indications are that he has a pretty significant knee injury that is going to require surgery and most likely will prevent him from playing next fall,” Choate said. “That obviously changes some things for us.

“It’s really been bugging me for awhile. It’s the worst thing about our game. I was really looking forward to seeing Jabarri getting a chance to compete. Now we are just pulling for him to make a full recovery, get back here, finish his degree and see what happens from there. It’s hard to take when those things happen because it’s a meaningless situation and really just a fluke deal.”

Montana State junior wide receiver Jabarri Johnson/ by Blake Hempstead, for Skyline Sports

The 6-foot-4, 210-pound senior caught 28 passes for 443 yards and four touchdowns, all second on the Bobcat roster to Mitch Herbert, during MSU’s 5-6 campaign last season. Johnson, who played two years at Sac State and a year at American River College before landing at MSU, had his breakout game with eight catches for 116 yards and two touchdowns in MSU’s 31-27 loss to No. 3 South Dakota State in Bozeman. He was MSU’s leading receiver against Weber State, Eastern Washington and Northern Arizona, catching touchdowns against North Dakota and NAU.

“Jabarri is a guy we were looking to add a lot of maturity and leadership to that group,” Choate said. “We have to get some young guys in that group to step up and carry the flag and it probably puts us in a position where we have to go look for a body at that position in the spring recruiting cycle.

Choate said Montana State would explore the transfer market from both the FBS and junior college ranks during the spring recruiting period.

MSU scrimmages at 11:30 a.m. on Friday before taking the weekend off for Easter.

Photos by Brooks Nuanez. All Rights Reserved. 

About Colter Nuanez

Colter Nuanez is the co-founder and senior writer for Skyline Sports. After spending six years in the newspaper industry with stops at the Missoulian, the Ellensburg Daily Record and the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the former Washington Newspaper Association Sportswriter of the Year and University of Montana Journalism School graduate ('09) has cultivated a deep passion for sports journalism during his 13-year career covering the Big Sky Conference. In August of 2014, Colter and brother Brooks merged their passions of writing and art to found Skyline Sports.

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