LUCAS SEMB Missoulian
Quarterback: No. 4, Tommy Mellott
A lot has changed since Griz Mellott last saw what was just a year ago. At the time of Brawl 2021, he was a backup quarterback. Now he’s one of the best in the country with an elite, balanced attack. On the ground, he is the team’s leading rusher with 705 yards and seven touchdowns. Through the air, he has 1,206 yards with nine more points. All of this despite having played in just eight games and other QB Sean Chambers also put a lot of emphasis on the game plan.
Wide receiver: No. 11 Willie Patterson
No other Bobcats receiver has quite the impact of the Tacoma, Washington native. While two of his teammates get two points, Patterson is the biggest threat with eight touchdowns and a team-leading 503 yards. He was named Big Sky Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his effort against Northern Colorado this season, where he registered 148 yards and three trips to the end zone.
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Running back: #13, Elijah Elliott
Sometimes Portland, Oregon product can get lost in the mix. His two QBs are elite runners with more yards than himself, and recently wide receiver Marqui Johnson was named Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts in the backfield. However, he was the most consistently used running back. He has 550 yards rushing but only one touchdown because those opportunities usually go elsewhere. He added 105 receiving yards.
Attacking Lineman: No. 65, Justus Perkins
As quarterback on the offensive line at center, Perkins was the only recurring starter on the Bobcats offensive line that season. He’s undersized at 6 feet tall and 285 pounds, but the production speaks for itself. With 3,166 rushing yards, the offensive as the most important horse in attack is one of the best running units in FCS football. Perkins comes from a football family, as his father played for MSU back then, and two brothers are currently on the team with him.
Defense Attorney: No. 47, Callahan O’Reilly
The kid from hometown Bozeman is a Swiss army knife for the Bobcats this season. In the center of defense, the senior has posted numbers in every stat category. He is the team’s lead tackler with 68 takedowns while also leading in interceptions with four. He’s also recorded two sacks, three quarterback whories, and three forced fumbles. With a strong finale, he will be a candidate to match or even surpass his All-Big Sky second-team honors from last season.
Defender: No. 95, Sebastian Valdez
Only a sophomore, the interior designer from Spring Valley, California, ridiculously fills the box score this season. For a frontline man, his 7.5 sacks and 10 tackles for losses are staggering totals. These propelled him to the top of the Big Sky leaderboard in every category. He’s also a sure tackler and tough hitter, having amassed 32 tackles and two forced fumbles in a breakout season.
Security/Nickel: #7, Ty Okada
A Minnesota native, Okada is a versatile weapon for the Bobcats, who play in the high school and can slip into the middle of the defensive unit as a third linebacker. With that, he was great as a tackler and in pass coverage during the 2022 campaign. He has 55 tackles in the season with a team high of seven pass breakups. He also has an interception and two fumble recoveries while trying to continue his All-Big Sky second-team honors from a season ago.
Kickoff returnees: No. 16, Marqui Johnson
This is Johnson’s first year with the Bobcats, having joined MSU through the transfer portal during the offseason. He spent his freshman season at Sacramento State and is now using his big-play skills all over the field in Bozeman. The wide receiver, who was named Big Sky Offensive Player of the Week for his time as a running back last week, has his biggest impact on special teams. He’s averaging 30 yards per return on a home visit this season.
Lucas Semb is the Griz Football Beat Writer for The Missoulian. Follow him on Twitter @Lucas_Semb or email him at [email protected]