BOZEMAN — Storming around Bobcat Stadium’s field, Shawn Howe had work ahead of him.

The Montana State defensive line coach shouted as he explained drills to his players. He was unafraid to compliment a good effort with a pat on a player’s helmet or demand another to retry the exercise and fix a mistake.

He joked that some people might think he’s crazy when they watch him work. He hopes he’s known for “tremendous” energy.

“I have a strong presence when I’m around the group,” Howe said. “I think that’s the way most D-line coaches are.”

“First and foremost, I would think that people say that I’m a good teacher because I think that’s a big, important part of it,” he added. “I think that I’m going to hold you accountable every drill and in everything and have a ton of passion for the position. I’m very passionate about D-line play. It means a lot to me, and I think that passion comes out and people see that.”

Howe is tasked with a pivotal job at MSU. The Bobcats have been stout defensively in recent years, in large part because of the strength and depth of their defensive line. Due to graduations, players moving positions and injuries during spring ball, that position group has been tested.

But the Bobcats have expressed trust in Howe to lead the defensive line to improvement. MSU holds its Sonny Holland Classic spring scrimmage at 1 p.m. Saturday at Bobcat Stadium.

“It’s been smooth sailing,” MSU defensive tackle Chase Benson said of Howe. “Very fiery individual, very passionate and very detailed.”

Howe was the only position coach added at MSU when head coach Brent Vigen took over. Howe replaced Byron Hout, who departed during the transition from Jeff Choate to Vigen. Hout coached several all-conference contributors, including all-American Bryce Sterk.

But Howe brings plenty of experience himself. Before, he was a defensive quality control analyst at USC since 2019. He was also there as a defensive administrative assistant in 2011 and a graduate assistant working with the defensive line in 2012.

In that time, Howe worked with Monte Kiffin, a longtime NFL and collegiate defensive mastermind known for the Tampa 2 defense.

In 2018, Howe was the defensive line coach at Coastal Carolina. He also was the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Dixie State (2015-17), the defensive line coach at Humboldt State (2013-14), an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Tennessee (2010), a graduate assistant at Memphis (2007-09) and a volunteer assistant at North Carolina State (2006).

“I’ve been around some unbelievable coaches and some unbelievable mentors who have really helped me,” Howe said. “And I’ve been around some really good football players too, which we have some really good football players here.”

He started coaching, working with outside linebackers at Rocky Mountain College, in 2004-05. He played at defensive end there from 2002-03.

Using the same approach he did at USC, Howe said it will lead him to success in Bozeman.

“Coach Howe is coaching them up,” Vigen said. “He’s a tremendous coach as far as understanding this system and scheme and brings a lot of energy to the table.”

Howe was familiar with Vigen from his days as an offensive coordinator at Wyoming. Howe was intrigued by his strategy and wanted to join MSU’s staff. It eventually brought him back to the state where he played in college.

From his colleagues across the country, Howe heard he would love if he returned to the Treasure State on Vigen’s staff. When he agreed to become MSU’s defensive line coach, friends from college reached out and greeted him.

With his tireless attitude, he intends to make use of the knowledge he’s gained now that he’s back.

“It’s surreal. It’s been a really cool thing,” Howe said. “It feels like I’ve been welcomed with open arms, and that’s always a great feeling.”

Colton Pool can be reached at or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.

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