MISSOULA — Missoula Sentinel senior Rylan Ortt signed with the Montana State football team on Wednesday as part of National Signing Day.
Ortt chose a preferred walk-on spot to play safety for the Cats over a grayshirt opportunity from the Montana Grizzlies, which would have kept him from even practicing during the entire 2019 season.
“It’s D-I football; I’ve always wanted to play at a high level. They wanted me, so I wanted to go there and be where I was wanted,” Ortt said while wearing a Cats sweater his grandma shipped him from Billings since he couldn’t find any MSU gear in Missoula.
He later added: “Their football program’s on the rise right now. They’re nationally ranked in the FCS. Top 25 school. It’s a great school to go with a great education. They wanted me, so that felt nice.”
As the Spartans’ quarterback in 2018, Ortt threw for 2,098 yards and 18 touchdowns in 10 games. He added 750 rushing yards and 14 scores on the ground, the latter being the most in the state among quarterbacks.
The 6-foot-2, 185-pound senior was recruited to play safety by the Cats, Griz, Montana Tech and Carroll College. He was offered by Montana State and then Montana in December, and he committed on Sunday.
“It was pretty tough, but I made the right decision,” Ortt said.
Montana State had coach Jeff Choate sounded pleased to pry Ortt out of Griz territory.
“When I get to the point where I’m like, ‘Are we missing anybody?’ — and usually (special teams coordinator) B.J. (Robertson) doesn’t miss anybody in Montana — this was the name that kept kind of coming up. ‘Have you looked at this Ortt kid from Sentinel? He’s pretty good,” Choate said. “He played for Dane Oliver up there in enemy territory, and he is pretty good. I think he’s a guy that will probably most likely fit on the defensive side of the ball as a safety, but I just feel like he’s a tough Montana kid that adds value to your roster. We’re excited about his presence here in our program in the near future.”
Ortt's backfield partner, running back Elias DeWaters, signed with the Griz in December. The two of them could be going head to head one day.
“Rylan’s just a great learner, obviously, because he was our quarterback and we threw him into the defense wherever we needed him,” DeWaters said. “He learns faster than anyone else. He’s a big kid, great athlete. I think the spot they got him at as a safety is going to be great for him. He’s going to be able to tear it up on the defensive side of the ball learning their scheme and doing what they need him to do.”