BILLINGS — When he signs to join the football program at Montana State, Bozeman High’s Justus Perkins will officially begin the journey of following in his father’s footsteps with the Bobcats.
Perkins, a 6-foot, 247-pound offensive lineman for the Hawks, said he is coming to MSU as a preferred walk-on. Perkins said he was also considering offers from Carroll College in Helena and the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play for his hometown college.
The NCAA’s second signing period for football opens on Wednesday. Bobcats coach Jeff Choate will officially announce MSU's newest additions during a signing day event at noon at the Best Western Grantree in Bozeman.
“As a competitor, I just want to compete at the highest level,” Perkins said during a phone interview on Tuesday. “I truly do believe I can compete at the FCS level, so I have to try it.
“My dad played at the school and I grew up watching them, and the opportunity to play there is just mind-blowing when I step back and really think about it. It’s definitely a program I want to be a part of. Great things are happening in Bozeman and I want to stay around and see them.”
Perkins’ father Josh was a cornerback at Montana State from 1996-99.
“Luckily throughout the recruiting process he wasn’t too biased,” commented Perkins, who said he will start out playing the center position at MSU and will redshirt the 2019 season. “Both my parents and my whole family were completely open-minded about it and were super loving and supportive about my decision and were 100 percent behind whatever I did.”
Perkins is the third player from Bozeman High to be a part of the Bobcats’ 2019 recruiting class, joining running back Joe Olson and tight end Ryan Lonergan, who each came aboard during the NCAA’s initial signing period in December.
“I grew up with those guys,” Perkins said. “It’s definitely a great experience to continue my football career (with) them.”
As of Tuesday afternoon, Perkins was one of nine high school players expected to join MSU during the second signing period, and one of three from the Treasure State. The other Montanans are Missoula Sentinel’s Rylan Ortt and Bigfork’s Logan Gilliard.
Ortt (6-2, 185) played quarterback at Sentinel but projects as a safety. Gilliard (6-3, 200) played both center and linebacker in high school.
The Bobcats’ six other additions come from out of state, and each is a defensive back or a lineman. The DBs are Elijah King (5-11, 170) of Elk Grove, California; Dom Brown (6-3, 185) of Oxnard, California; and Tylor Bohannon (6-1, 185) of Sacramento, California.
The linemen include Kent, Washington’s Tua Areta (6-4, 3-10) on the defensive side and T.J. Session (6-4, 275) of Murrieta, California, and Hudson Klundt (6-4, 275) of Twin Falls, Idaho, on the offensive side.
Including Olson and Lonergan, MSU signed 16 players in December, and Aurora, Colorado, defensive lineman Hayden Isenhart (6-4, 230) was one of them. But Isenhart has since signed with the Air Force Academy, seemingly having been released from his initial letter of intent.
Otherwise, the Bobcats also lost La Puenta, California, wide receiver Koby Duru, who last week announced his intent to transfer. Duru was a member of MSU’s 2018 recruiting class.
Wideout Mekhi Metcalf, running back Maleek Barkley and linebacker Dante Sparaco — who all joined the Bobcats last year — have also left the team. Meanwhile, running back Tyler Natee and linebacker Balue Chapman have medically retired, and offensive lineman Jarrod Asche of Glendive has left the team to focus on academics.