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Montana State to lean on veteran fullback, tight end units this fall

Treyton Pickering
Posted at 7:22 PM, Aug 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-16 23:39:20-04

BOZEMAN — When taking a look at Montana State’s offense, it’s easy to point out questions circling certain position groups, like depth on the offensive line or at running back.

However, there's not much to be said about the Bobcats' fullback and tight ends groups — except that both positions might be the most put-together units on the field.

While this fall marks Tyler Walker’s first season coaching both groups, he’s leading veteran units.

“He’s a really knowledgeable guy, and he really, truly cares about us and wants us to become the best possible versions of ourselves, so it will be fun to see where he takes us this year," senior R.J. Fitzgerald shared.

Last fall, Fitzgerald was the team’s primary fullback and move-blocker but did miss four mid-season games after dislocating his elbow during Gold Rush.

Doctors initially thought the injury was going to sideline him for the rest of 2021, but five weeks later, he made his return to the field against Weber State.

“His time of being healthy was pretty short-lived last season, so what he brings in that fullback position is a lot of energy, he can be a force in the blocking game, and I think he's a good enough athlete to be a weapon in the passing game," head coach Brent Vigen stated.

Another weapon to look out for at fullback is Jaharie Martin who took over for Fitzgerald while he was injured. 

The sophomore may be somewhat new to the position, but his progress this offseason hasn’t gone unnoticed.

“I know he was a running back, and then got thrust into fullback," Vigen recalled. "We really wanted to flip that this year because he was limited at his reps at fullback, so we spent the time in spring and fall developing his ability at fullback. There will be an opportunity there, but then we also know that we can call upon him to carry the football too.”

At tight end, the Bobcats also return two veterans in Derryk Snell and Treyton Pickering. In 2021, Snell finished third in receptions (20) on the team totaling 159 yards, while also recording one touchdown. Pickering followed suit with 15 catches for 140 yards and three touchdowns.

Because of the depth and continuity at both positions, Vigen expects the team will utilize each unit more so than last year.

“I think just playing with two of them more at the same time is the first thing, and then versatility," Vigen said. "I think that position is - the skillset is widespread as any spot on the offense, and I think they need to be a better blocking unit A number one, and then I think we have some guys - Derryk and Treyton in particular - that can be real weapons in the pass game. We utilize at times last year, but I do look for that to be enhanced.”