BOZEMAN — The Montana State football team gained three commitments Sunday, including twins from Billings.
Billings West seniors Caden and Taco Dowler announced their commitments on social media, as did Florence senior Ethan Abbott. Caden is mainly a defensive back, Taco is a wide receiver/DB/returner and Abbott is a lineman.
"It’s exciting and relieving," Caden told 406mtsports.com on Monday. "Everybody says it’s a relief, but it’s not really explainable" until you commit.
The Dowler twins each earned Class AA all-state selections last season. Both were honored at wide receiver, while Caden also was recognized at safety and long snapper, and Taco was an all-state cornerback, kick returner and punt returner.
The 6-foot-4, 275-pound Abbott also received an all-state honor in Class B after last season, his first in Montana after moving from Maryland.
Caden and Taco are No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in 247Sports' Class of 2022 Montana recruit rankings, behind only Helena's Kaden Huot, a Montana commit. The Dowlers helped West reach last season's State AA title game, where the Golden Bears lost 24-15 to Missoula Sentinel.
"In my opinion, he’s the best player in the state," Caden said of Taco.
Taco plans to be a receiver and returner at MSU, and Caden committed as a defensive player, likely at safety or nickelback but possibly linebacker.
"He’s electric," Taco said of Caden. "He brings more than just skill to football. He brings the mentality and the leadership."
All three MSU commits were in Bozeman this past weekend for the Bobcats' Gold Rush game, the first game at Bobcat Stadium since 2019. The Dowlers and Abbott watched then-No. 11-ranked MSU beat Drake 45-7 on a beautiful night in front of nearly 20,000 fans.
"After that visit, it kind of sealed the deal. The game was awesome, and the atmosphere was different than anything I’d seen," Caden said. "It was the caliber of the play as well. They’ve got a bunch of studs out there."
Taco echoed his brother.
"Going to that Gold Rush game sealed the deal. The atmosphere was electric. I could totally see myself playing there," Taco said. "I’ve wanted to commit to the Cats since the summer. I just needed that final puzzle piece."
MSU's coaches also contributed to Caden's and Taco's commitments, they said, as did West graduates currently on the Bobcats' roster: defensive lineman Paul Brott, linebacker Neil Daily and DB Connor Ryan (tight end Elijah Reynolds, a Red Lodge grad, also played a recruiter role).
MSU redshirt junior receiver Willie Patterson told Taco that the Bobcats have "the best coaches in the business," Taco said.
"If the players are turning into recruiters, it shows the coaches are doing a good job," Taco said.
Taco had good things to say about MSU head coach Brent Vigen, offensive coordinator Taylor Housewright and wide receivers coach Justin Udy. Vigen reminds Taco of West's head coach, Rob Stanton.
Caden had offers from MSU, Navy and Northern Colorado, he said, and he talked with Montana's coaches but never received an offer. His decision was between MSU and Navy, and he chose to stay in his home state.
"It’s pretty big because everyone in the state is behind you and supports your decision," Caden said, before quickly adding a caveat. "Except for the Griz fans."
UM did offer a scholarship to Taco, he said, as did Northern Colorado. He also received a preferred walk-on opportunity from Kansas State, a program that plays in the FBS along with Navy.
The Dowlers weren't dead set on playing with each other in college. Taco didn't even know Caden was thinking about committing to MSU until they were at Bobcat Stadium on Saturday.
"It’s a pleasant surprise," Taco said. "I'm stoked."
Assuming they sign, the Dowler twins will continue playing together for years to come. Caden might even guard Taco during MSU practices.
"It’s not that I want to go with him, it’s that I want to go to that school. Going with him is a bonus," Caden said. "It will be fun to play with him for the next couple years."