BOZEMAN — Within Montana State’s press release announcing its February football signings, incoming defensive line prospect Tua Areta is listed at 6-foot-3, 380 pounds.
Initial thought: That has to be a misprint.
It is. But not in the way you’d expect.
“He weighed 385, not 380, when he came on his visit,” Bobcats coach Jeff Choate said Wednesday during a signing day press conference in the atrium at the Best Western Grantree Inn. “Because I asked him. I said, ‘What are you going to weigh, Tua?’ He said, ‘Oh, I don’t know. 340-ish.’ He about broke our scale.
“He’s a big boy, Tua is.”
He’s also microcosm for the big-bodied recruiting class MSU coveted.
Areta, from Kent-Meridian High School in Kent, Washington, was one of 15 new additions the Bobcats revealed for the NCAA’s second signing period, which brings their 2019 recruiting class total to 30 players including walk-ons, mid-year transfers and those who signed out of high school in December.
Choate said Areta hasn’t played a high level of football yet, but that his combination of size and intelligence could accelerate his development.
Areta is one of six linemen the Bobcats added on Wednesday, four of which initially project as offensive players: Justus Perkins (6-0, 247) from Bozeman High; Hudson Klundt (6-3, 290) of Twin Falls, Idaho; T.J. Session (6-4, 270) of Murrieta, California; and Jacob Kettels (6-4, 280) of Lynden, Washington.
Choate said Perkins “puts more guys on their back than anybody,” and called him the emotional leader of the Bozeman team. Perkins’ father Josh played cornerback at MSU from 1996-99.
Additionally, Choate said he coached Klundt’s father, Travis, during his one season on the staff at Twin Falls High School in 1996. Kettels has been classified as a grayshirt and won’t enroll at MSU until next January. Choate said Kettels is coming off an ACL injury.
Meanwhile, Bigfork signee Logan Gilliard (6-3, 205) could end up on the defensive line but Choate said he may also play tight end and is adept at long-snapping.
As Choate alluded to, the secondary was another target area for the Bobcats, and they added four projected cornerbacks in Tylor Bohannon (6-1, 175) of Sacramento, California; Dom Brown (6-2, 185) of Oxnard, California; Elijah King (5-10, 175) of Elk Grove, California; and Eric Zambrano (6-3, 190) of Upland, California.
Choate indicated that Bohannon may be an impact player as a true freshman.
Missoula Sentinel’s Rylan Ortt will also come to Montana State as a safety prospect.
“Defensive back, we talked about that being a huge target for us in this late signing period,” Choate said. “We were able to make that a priority, and I feel like we can get some tremendous value and impact in that area.”
Linebacker Jaharie Martin (6-0, 238) could be one of the stars of this class. The chiseled Martin is joining the Bobcats from Lakeland, Florida, and was a find of tight ends coach Brian Armstrong, who has connections in the Sunshine State from his time there as a high school coach.
Jack Galt (6-0, 210) of 6-Man White Sulphur Springs and Brock Spiegelberg (6-0, 210) of Casper, Wyoming both have position versatility, including at linebacker.
Wide receiver Jamahd Monroe (6-2, 180) signed with MSU out of San Diego, California. Choate said Monroe, who is nicknamed “Peanut,” is stronger and more physically developed than many high school receivers.
Of the 30 new players the Bobcats have added since December, 12 come from Montana, eight are from California, three hail from Washington, two signed from both Texas and Idaho, and one each comes from Colorado, Florida and Wyoming.
Choate described Wednesday’s in-state signees — Perkins, Ortt, Gilliard and Galt — as “Montana tough” players that will add value to the Bobcats’ roster.
It was a wide-ranging recruiting effort, and it’s likely not over. Choate said he and his staff will probably still look to sign another interior defensive lineman as well as a combo punter/kicker.
NOTES: Choate also unveiled the Bobcats’ schedule for spring drills, which will begin March 2 and continue to April 13. MSU's annual spring game is slated for April 6.