Big Sky Conference

After flirting with Fighting Irish, Webb finds a home with the Bobcats

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BOZEMAN, Montana — Tre Webb initially looked like he might become a Golden Domer.

Instead of ending up in South Bend, Indiana, the talented safety found a way to wear another golden helmet in Bozeman, Montana.

Webb nearly ended up at Notre Dame after leaving Mountain West champion San Jose State. He contemplated heading to Mississippi State. Instead, he ended up on Brent Vigen’s first Montana State squad.

“It ended up just not working out because of COVID and other situations and scholarship numbers and stuff such like that,” Webb said in an interview on the Big Sky Breakdown podcast. “Montana State was always on me ever since I hit the portal. I just continued to develop that relationship with the coaching staff. It just, it ended up blossoming into a great relationship.

“And once I came on my visit, I fell in love with the campus, the atmosphere, the state. In the end, the team. Honestly, I just I saw how hard these guys work, how hard these guys wanted to play. And I just wanted to be a part of it and help contribute any way I can.”

BOZEMAN, Montana — Tre Webb initially looked like he might become a Golden Domer.

Instead of ending up in South Bend, Indiana, the talented safety found a way to wear another golden helmet in Bozeman, Montana.

Webb nearly ended up at Notre Dame after leaving Mountain West champion San Jose State. He contemplated heading to Mississippi State. Instead, he ended up on Brent Vigen’s first Montana State squad.

“It ended up just not working out because of COVID and other situations and scholarship numbers and stuff such like that,” Webb said in an interview on the Big Sky Breakdown podcast. “Montana State was always on me ever since I hit the portal. I just continued to develop that relationship with the coaching staff. It just, it ended up blossoming into a great relationship.

“And once I came on my visit, I fell in love with the
campus, the atmosphere, the state. In the end, the team. Honestly, I just I saw
how hard these guys work, how hard these guys wanted to play. And I just wanted
to be a part of it and help contribute any way I can.”

Webb is the rarest of FBS transfers. He didn’t leave San Jose State because of an injury or a lack of playing time or a coaching change or a minimal role or any off the field issue. Rather, he was a captain and All-Mountain West safety last season as San Jose State raced to the first MW championship in its program’s history.

Montana State senior safety Tre Webb/ by Brooks Nuanez

The 6-foot-2, 202-pounder rolled up 49 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and broke up five passes in eight games last fall for the Spartans. San Jose State finished 7-1 with regular-season wins over San Diego State and Nevada leading up to a 34-20 win over perennial Mountain West king Boise State in the league championship game. But SJSU lost 34-14 to Ball State in the Arizona Bowl.

Webb earned honorable mention All-Mountain West honor, adding to his collection of starts and pushing the total to 30 in the process. Coming out of Servite High of Southern California’s Trinity League — the same place former Bobcat and current Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Travis Jonsen prepped — Webb redshirted at SJSU in 2016.

He played in 13 games mostly on special teams in 2017, making 31 tackles and two tackles for loss. In 2018, he notched a career-high 72 tackles and a tackle for loss while also forcing a fumble. In 2018, Webb piled up 58 tackles, a tackle for loss, a forced fumble and his only collegiate interception.

“He definitely looks the part but beyond that, he’s a very intelligent player,” Montana State head coach Brent Vigen said about the sixth-year senior he added to his roster less than a month before he opened his first fall camp leading MSU.

“His path here wasn’t maybe what he had planned when he got in the transfer portal. But I think he landed in a place that really matched him well. Playing strong safety in our scheme, that’s a really good fit for him.”

Montana State opened the 2021 season, its first in nearly two years, with a narrow 19-16 loss at Wyoming; Webb rolled up six tackles as the Bobcats did not allow a touchdown until early in the fourth quarter and limited UW’s offense thoroughly throughout. Webb had four tackles in mostly first half duty of MSU’s 45-7 crushing of Drake.

“And I think our culture is a really good fit for him,” Vigen said. “He was a big part of San Jose’s transition from really the doormat of the Mountain West to champions last year and he had a big role with his play but also his leadership. That’s where I think he’s been a big jolt to our team. He’s been there, done that. But he also understands what it takes to assimilate to our group and he wants to win football games.”

Montana State cornerback James Campbell (4) tackles a Wyoming ball carrier Saturday; Tre Webb (2) /by Garrett Becker – Montana State Creative Services

Montana State’s defense features a variety of players that have been there, done that. From all-league defensive linemen tackle Chase Benson and end Amandre Williams to All-American linebacker Troy Andersen to honors candidate safeties Jeffrey Manning Jr. and Ty Okada plus inside linebacker Callahan O’Reilly, MSU’s defense still looks the part of the dominant unit that helped the Bobcats charge into the semifinals of the FCS playoffs for the first time in 35 years their last season out in 2019.

Webb said winning the Mountain West championship last fall “was quite the experience, unlike anything I’ve ever experienced, honestly”. The run came during a truncated season that was a non-season at MSU. Almost all of his new teammates participated in the last slate of practices under former head coach Jeff Choate last fall.

The Riverside, California native played in the Trinity League, one of the top private school leagues in the country. It’s located in the greater Los Angeles area and features nationally respected powerhouses like St. John Bosco Prep, Mater Dei High and Servite High. MSU’s roster features senior defensive back Tyrel Thomas along with sophomores offensive lineman Cole Sain and cornerback Level Price Jr., each who attended St. John Bosco, a team that has finished in the top five nationally frequently over the last handful of years.

Cam Gardener — a former walk-on wide receiver  who scored hi s first touchdown against Drake Saturday — prepped at Mater Dei.

St. John Bosco (Bellflower, California) senior offensive lineman Cole Sain committed to Montana in 2018, transferred to Montana State in 2021/contributed

The Servite connection for the Bobcats actually started when former UCLA fullback Michael Pitre joined the MSU coaching staff to coach running backs, serve as recruiting coordination and helped open up a Trinity League pipeline. Pitre helped recruit Jalen Cole, one of the highest rated recruits in the FCS out of Mater Dei, the same season MSU signed Thomas, who is expected to make the first start of his senior season on Saturday.

Pitre coached at Servite when Jonsen was in high school, which in turn helped MSU’s former recruiting ace lure Jonsen to Montana State after transferring from Oregon.

Webb also played with and against a slew of Trinity League products while at SJSU. Webb has never shied away from competition, hence why he left to pursue a Power 5 opportunity but it was not without thought.

“It was definitely hard leaving, leaving my guys over there at San Jose, such great relationships, my great brotherhood, and I was always just looking forward to the next goal,” Webb said. “Honestly, I just was looking forward to playing in a Power 5, possibly. And it was definitely coming to fruition with Notre Dame and they were on me as soon as I entered the portal, and it was looking like I was going to go there.

“But God works in mysterious ways. And I’m just happy that Montana State accepted me here, welcomed me with open arms and like I said, I’m just ready to give them everything I got over here.”

Montana State head coach Jeff Choate (L)and running backs coach and recruiting coordinator Michael Pitre (R)

Growing up in Southern California and then playing college football in one of the booming metropolises of the West Coast meant Webb had never experienced the feeling of a college town.

And that’s been one of his favorite parts about his few months in Bozeman.

“Definitely love the college atmosphere, the college town atmosphere over here, definitely have never experienced that ever,” Webb said. “And it has filled me with such gratitude. Feeling this love from all the fans and the people, the coaching staff and everybody.

“And another thing is that my teammates here, they immediately open me with open arms. It was great, just introducing myself to everybody. But I knew I had to earn it. And once I came, I still feel like I need to earn it. And I still feel like I need to prove myself to these guys. I can already tell you that they are my brothers for life.”

Webb’s addition helps fortify and diversify a Montana State secondary short on safety experience after the graduation of Brayden Konkol, Jahque Alleyne and JoJo Henderson following the 2019 season. But the Bobcats are long on potential; Vigen consistently called his secondary his most talented group throughout fall camp.

Montana State’s defense has given up 26 total points in two games, going blow for blow with Wyoming of the Mountain West before smashing Drake last weekend.

It’s a good start for a program that made its first Final Four appearance in the FCS playoffs in 35 yards back in 2019, the last time the Bobcats played. Montana State appears to be stacked at most every position, from one of the league’s most talented offensive lines to one of the Big Sky’s best tailbacks in Isaiah Ifanse to all-league level talent on all three levels of its defense.

And the Bobcats also harbor lofty expectations internally. It’s one of the things that ultimately landed Webb at Montana State.

“One of the first things I remember hearing when I got on campus and everything and I got acclimated with everybody was that it was national championships or nothing,” Webb said. “That was the first thing I remember. And coming from a team that just won a ring and just won the Mountain West championship, I would want nothing more to add to my collection, honestly.

“And I’m all about winning.”

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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