BOZEMAN — With depth and talent, Brent Vigen didn’t see safety as a position that needed help. But the Montana State head coach thought one he used to game plan against while at Wyoming could help his new team.
Tre Webb was an all-Mountain West honorable mention at San Jose State, which won the conference championship in 2020. Vigen felt Webb’s experiences could be beneficial with the Bobcats.
Webb was among four former FBS players new to MSU to have their second day of fall camp on Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.
The Bobcats also added Cam Gardner, a wide receiver from Utah, David Alston, a defensive end from Nebraska, and Blake Hehl, who most recently played for Tarleton State in Texas after his stop at Old Dominion. Vigen feels each of them have varying levels of challenges ahead of them as they acclimate to a new team.
“All four of them,” Vigen said, “are going to add to our depth and competition throughout the fall and certainly on the game field.”
Webb, a grad transfer, was a three-year starting safety who will be going into his sixth year of college after he was granted an additional year of eligibility in 2020. Last season, he recorded 49 tackles, 3.5 for loss, and six pass breakups.
Webb was a three-star recruit out of Servite High School in Anaheim, California. That’s also where Travis Jonsen, a former Montana State all-conference receiver and current member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, attended high school. Vigen figured that connection helped Webb make his decision.
Vigen also said Webb’s situation may have been “tricky” because strong safeties like him may not necessarily have been high commodities in the transfer portal.
“A tremendous leader, and I really appreciate what he went through and the growth that he’s had the last three years,” Vigen said of Webb. “He’s going to bring the experience and leadership.”
Alston is MSU’s most recent transfer addition. Vigen said Alston, from St. Paul, Minnesota, finished his degree at Nebraska and was looking for a place with more opportunity to play.
While he was regarded as one of the top recruits out of Minnesota and was a three-star prospect according to 247 Sports, he didn’t appear in a game in three years at Nebraska. He has three years of eligibility left.
At 6-4, 241 pounds, Vigen said Alston agreed to move from outside linebacker to defensive end. This gives the Bobcats key depth as they move to a four-linemen front.
“We thought it would be a really good opportunity to continue to enhance his football career,” Vigen said.
Gardner, who transferred in May, played in all five of Utah’s games last season, with his lone stat being a tackle on special teams against USC. In 2019, he played in seven games on special teams as a true freshman and lined up at wide receiver in three.
Gardner told the Chronicle he wanted to leave because he desired a larger role in an offense. Gardner has had ample time to integrate with the program. In his first couple days of fall camp, Vigen said Gardner has shown a “real knack for the position.”
“I think the exciting thing about Cam is he’s got flexibility at the receiver position to play both inside and out,” Vigen said. “Smart, intelligent guy who’s got a lot of years ahead of him too.”
Hehl, who’s from Huntington Beach, California, attended Fullerton College, a junior college, in his home state. In 10 games, he tallied 29 tackles, 1.5 sacks and three fumble recoveries, earning a two-star ranking.
In 2019, he went to Old Dominion and redshirted, and after being cut during a coaching change, he went to Tarleton State. During a spring season there, he totaled 19 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, half of a sack and four quarterback hurries.
Hehl plays with a “tremendous motor” and has impressive strength, Vigen said. He also adds depth to a position group that needed it.
“He was looking for an opportunity that we provided,” Vigen said, “to get on the field and make an impact and play for a program that has an expectation of winning championships.”