2024 Montana Recruits - Tier 4

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2024 Montana Recruits - Tier 4

Post by VimSince03 » Thu Jan 18, 2024 4:54 pm

Tier 4 - "Safe Investments (PWOs)"

Prospects in this tier:

- "safe investments" as they have low risk, high reward potential based off their offer/talent
- will commonly receive full-scholarship offers from all the NAIA schools in-state and several other lower division schools out-of-state
- are considered excellent NAIA players if they sign at that level
- may receive a preferred walk-on offer from Cats or Griz, sometimes both
- may only receive interest but no offer from Cats or Griz
- will 100% redshirt if they sign with a Cats or Griz and will need at least three years of development prior to starting their junior years (may play ST earlier)
- may be on the roster bubble at the FCS level after their second year in the program
- will commonly redshirt if they sign with a lower level program (DII, DIII, NAIA) and will likely start within first two years
- are bordering on partial-scholarship talent but are missing a few traits (athletic ability, size, smarts, technique, etc.) that may get developed
- commonly have been selected All-State multiple years at their position(s) during high school
- will commonly get selected as starters or alternates for the Shrine Game (should be selected as starters)
- have potential to be a starter (FCS) at least once with a good chance of being a multi-year all-conference player at a lower level program

22.) Christian Knowles (Missoula Sentinel) - 6'3", 225 lbs. - DL
23.) Ethan Triplett (Belt) - 6'1", 175 lbs. - WR (Carroll College)
24.) Kellen Harrison (Bozeman - 6'0", 160 lbs. - ATH/S
25.) Isaac Stoker (Corvallis) - 6'3", 250 lbs. - OL/DL
26.) Torin Jeske (Bozeman) - 6'5", 240 lbs. - OL (Montana Tech)
27.) Aidan Lammers (Shepherd) - 6'1", 210 lbs. - HB/LB (University of Montana-Western)
28.) Cody Schweikert (Columbia Falls) - 6'4", 225 lbs. - QB/LB (University of Montana)
29.) Cole Dawes (Helena Capital) - 6'5", 240 lbs. - OL (Montana Tech)
30.) Quaid Ash (Bozeman) - 6'2", 215 lbs. - HB/LB
31.) Elijah Thorness (Bigfork) - 6'3", 205 lbs. - HB/TE (University of Montana-Western)
32.) Kaiden Clement (CMR) - 6'2", 215 lbs. - HB/LB/DE (Montana Tech)
33.) Adam Balkenbush (Billings Central) - 6'1", 195 lbs. - ATH/LB
Adam is your classic high school QB who has a much higher ceiling at LB. Montana has produced a ton of these types for years and Adam fits the bill. His QB tape is definitely what you'd expect when watching Billings Central meaning...a lot of running the ball with some passing mixed in. To further prove that point, Adam started 29 games for the Rams since his sophomore season (impressive for that program) and averaged 67 passing yards per game with 23 passing touchdowns to six interceptions. You really watch his tape to see how effective he is at running the ball and his career statline as a runner is 1239 rushing yards (5 ypc) with 17 rushing touchdowns and only 4 fumbles. Adam started at LB his senior season and got better every game. His stats were modest with 62 total tackles, 3 TFLs, and 1 sack but he's a solid tackler and can bring some pop upon impact.
Overall, Adam is just a good football athlete with a higher ceiling if he commits full-time to LB.
34.) Carter Kraft (Helena High) - 6'0", 205 lbs. - ATH/QB
Productive QB for the Helena High Bengals the last two years. Carter had a better junior season than senior season. For his career, he threw for 4719 yards (168/game) and tossed 43 touchdowns but also 20 interceptions and 3 fumbles. As a runner, he put up 716 rushing yards at a 3.5 per carry average with 12 touchdowns and 8 of those were his senior season. In short yardage situations, Helena used him a bunch to pick up the tough yards. Carter is built well, runs the ball effectively, is on track to be valedictorian of his senior class, and has been an all-state selection twice. I don't know if he's a true college QB but I do think he's a moldable athlete whether that be at LB or possibly as an offensive weapon. As of 1/25/24, Carter has picked up offers from Sac State, UM, and Southern Utah so there is some intrigue to recruit him to the FCS level. He's still unsigned and will start for the West at QB in the Shrine Game but I think he's either an offensive weapon or LB.
35.) Jace Hill (Columbia Falls) - 6'2", 175 lbs. - WR
Jace caught my eye watching his junior film. He and Cody Schweikert have had a nearly unstoppable connection as they brought Columbia Falls back to the State A title game in 2023. He's not only a top producer at receiver but brought down 7 interceptions his senior season. Jace has also been the starting point guard for the Wildcat basketball team since he was a freshman. He just has traits you like as a receiver or corner as he's got great awareness and instincts to either find soft spots in coverage for his QB or make plays on the ball as a defender. If Jace was a step faster he's a scholarship kid but to me he was the fifth best receiver prospect in this class with the added bonus he could shine on defense. He'll start for the West squad in the Shrine Game at receiver.
36.) Austin Baller (Bozeman) - 6'1", 205 lbs. - LB
Austin's career stat line for his three years as a starter: 31 TFLs, 144 solos, 7 sacks, and one interception in 33 games played. He's produced at one of the best programs in the state and it led to a 1st-Team All-State selection and was voted team Defensive MVP. Austin is a great tackler and adequate in coverage. His TFL numbers prove he can read and react into the backfield with sound instincts. I ranked him lower than others because of athleticism which hurts his ceiling for development. I'm not sure he's flexible to play different positions at the FCS level so that lowers kids in my rankings. If Austin was a standout TE or FB for example, that would've moved him higher honestly. Saying all that, his production is there and I wouldn't be surprised at all if he makes an impact wherever he ends up signing. Austin is a quality linebacker prospect and worthy of at least a PWO from the Cats or Griz. Clear cut scholarship player for NAIA.
37.) Owen Adams (Laurel) - 6'1", 205 lbs. - K/P (University of Idaho)
Owen transferred to Laurel from Alaska and he enjoyed an All-State senior season that resulted in an offer from Jason Eck & Idaho to compete as a kicker/punter. He went 47/55 on touchbacks in 2023 which is very good for a high school product. Incomplete data from MaxPreps on his field goal/PAT percentage but he nailed multiple 40+ kicks but did miss a few PATs. Owen is a bigger kicker/punter with a strong leg. Be honest guys and gals, I really do not know how to evaluate the kicking or punting game so all I can say is he looks solid! If he pans out an Idaho, to me that's a miss by the in-state schools.
38.) Talen Reynolds (Missoula Loyola) - 5'11", 180 lbs. - RB (University of Montana)
Talen is the son of Griz HOF RB Chase Reynolds, starring at RB for the Loyola Rams the past three years. His senior season strangely mirrored his sophomore season with just over 800 yards at a 4.7 ypc clip with four more touchdowns than 2021 (16/12). Talen's biggest season was in 2022 rushing for 1690 yards on 301 carries for 5.6 ypc and 22 touchdowns. Despite all that, he doesn't quite have his Dad's accolades from high school as Chase set a MT all-class prep record 5261 career rushing yards and Drummond was a perfect 35-0 his final three seasons. However, Chase also had like multiple future college stars blocking for him for four years. Much like his Dad, Talen runs hard for a smaller back with a smooth stride once he gets in the open field. He makes good decisions in the hole and follows his blockers more often than not. So...why isn't Talen higher? Much like other players in this PWO group, I don't see the speed to compete at the FCS level. Talen won the State B Triple Jump last year so he has that explosion but he'll have to pack on at least 25 more pounds and get several steps faster to compete in the Griz backfield...in my opinion. When Talen inevitably becomes a Griz legend in 2026-2028, trust me I'll be the first one to raise my hand and say I was wrong!
39.) Tristan Butts (Eureka) - 6'3", 170 lbs. - S
Tristan is another solid football prospect produced out of the Lincoln County Lions football program. He stars on the defensive side of the ball at free safety. Tristan has a long frame with good range and instincts. He specifically has a nose for the football when its in the air as he led Class B in picks with 7 in 2023. On offense, Tristan was just as productive with 1002 receiving yards, 305 rushing yards, and 15 total touchdowns.
I think the only thing keeping him out of a higher ranking is speed because the size can be developed and the production is great. He'll start for the West squad in the Shrine Game in the secondary.
40.) Ryan Nansel (Bozeman Gallatin) - 6'1", 175 lbs. - CB (Montana State University)
Ryan was a late bloomer for a high-powered Gallatin squad in 2023 shining in the secondary for the Raptors. He has a good awareness and feel for the position and knows how to make plays on the ball. Ryan had two picks and 31 solo tackles his senior season. He'll have a shot to develop at cornerback at the FCS as Montana State offered him a PWO and he accepted. Ryan has a long way to go if he wants to see the field based on what I saw on film but he flashes. He'll start for the East at corner in the Shrine Game.
41.) Thomas Buchanan (Red Lodge) - 6'5", 210 lbs. - QB
One of the best traditional QB prospects in this class. "Traditional" meaning he's going to make plays with his arm from the pocket if he were to develop at the next level. Thomas has "the look" of a QB at 6'5", 210 lbs and shows good command with his lower body lining up with his upper body when throwing the ball. He has a live arm that he trusts to place the ball all over the field. Thomas also isn't a bad runner by any means as he made plenty of plays with his legs when needed. He'll start for the East in the Shrine Game.
Last edited by VimSince03 on Mon Jan 29, 2024 12:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: 2024 Montana Recruits - Tier 4

Post by kennethnoisewater » Mon Jan 29, 2024 12:41 pm

Eli Thorness from Bigfork signed with Western.


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