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Montana State returns an experienced receiving corps and hopes to maximize the talent at the position.

NC State transfer Matthew McKay, who is slated to start the season behind center for the Bobcats, will have a plethora of weapons who each bring distinctive skills.

FOR STARTERS

The Bobcats listed Bozeman product Lance McCutcheon, redshirt freshman Jaden Smith and junior Willie Patterson as the starting wideouts to begin fall camp.

McCutcheon, after flashes of great potential throughout his career, hopes to become an all-Big Sky performer as a senior. In 2019, he was fifth on the team and second among returners with 13 catches which went for 197 yards and two touchdowns. Both touchdowns were in a single game in the FCS playoffs. In 2018, he totaled the same yardage on 15 catches and scored a touchdown.

In both seasons, he had catches of 40 yards or more and averaged more than 14 yards per reception.

Patterson has been an effective slot receiver when healthy. He caught seven passes for 59 yards in eight games last season, but he’s missed significant time due to injuries the past two years.

With 334 yards on 23 catches and four touchdowns, Coy Steel was MSU’s third-leading receiver in 2019. The 5-foot-8, 177-pound junior from Sheridan, Wyoming, typically will play out of the slot and is the backup H receiver behind Patterson. Steel could be utilized in a variety of ways, including on screens or traditional pass plays.

BREAKOUT CANDIDATES

Smith will be one to watch, as his athleticism has been clear during fall camp and spring practices. While he redshirted in 2019, he did make an impressive 47-yard touchdown grab against Southern Utah. During the Sonny Holland Classic, he recorded three catches for 47 yards.

Previous Bobcats head coach Jeff Choate said Smith, a 6-foot-5, 206-pound receiver from Kennedale, Texas, will be a “superstar” in the Big Sky.

Redshirt freshman Jamahd Monroe is also listed as a second-string wideout. A 6-2, 195-pound native of San Diego, he caught 63 passes for 1,366 yards as a senior at Lincoln High and scored 13 touchdowns.

LOSSES

From the 2019 season, the Bobcats will be without Travis Jonsen and Kevin Kassis. Combined, they accounted for 54% of MSU’s receptions.

Kassis, a third-team all-conference receiver, finished fourth all-time at MSU with 1,966 receiving yards and in career receptions with 152.

Jonsen, who was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this past season, was second for the Bobcats with 580 yards on 55 receptions in 2019. While splitting time as a wildcat QB and a wideout, he also tied for the team lead with eight rushing touchdowns and was third on the squad with 526 yards on the ground. He was a first-team all-Big Sky selection his final year at MSU.

The Bobcats also lost Tyrone Marshall, who transferred to Northern Arizona this offseason. He caught three passes in 2019 but made most of his impact on fly sweeps. He ran for 163 yards and two touchdowns on 12 attempts.

Sophomore Mark Estes, an all-state player at Drummond in 2015 and Kalispell Glacier in 2017, transferred to Montana Tech. He had 64 rushing yards and 29 receiving yards in 2019.

NEWCOMERS

The Bobcats added two pass-catching FBS transfers who could rise up the depth chart by the first game of the year.

Cam Gardner previously played for Utah, though mostly on special teams. At 5-10, 183 pounds, he’ll have a chance to have a larger role on an offense at MSU.

Nate Stewart, a 6-2, 200-pound grad transfer, caught 79 passes in his four seasons with Akron. His craftiness and versatility give the Bobcats another element in the pass game.

MSU head coach Brent Vigen said Charles Brown may also be involved, both through the air and on the ground. The 5-11, 170-pound receiver from Grand Prairie, Texas, was all-state while at Arlington High.

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

This article originally ran on bozemandailychronicle.com.

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