Passionate, winning culture drove three-star receiver Christian Anaya to Montana State | Montana State Bobcats

BOZEMAN — Christian Anaya had the opportunity to play football near his home in Arizona, in places that don’t freeze in December. The wide receiver signed with Montana State.

To understand why Anaya chose to play for a school away from home in a much colder climate, the key word to focus on isn’t ‘home’ or ‘freeze’. It’s “December”.

Many Division I colleges gave Anaya the chance to be a key contributor. Only one offered the realistic expectation of playing until December. The Hamilton High eldest in Chandler, Ariz., will happily tolerate snow if it comes for a long playoff stretch.

“The way the title of the program really upset me and really made me want to be part of the program,” Anaya told last week.

Anaya is a three-star prospect who has had offers from Big Sky schools in northern Arizona, northern Colorado, Portland State and southern Utah. The Football Bowl Subdivision Arizona, Arizona State and Fresno State programs did not offer him but expressed interest, he said. So MSU, which lost to North Dakota State in the Football Championship Subdivision title game earlier this month, had some serious competition for the 6-foot-1, 175 wide. books.

Hamilton High’s Christian Anaya is a three-star recruit who signed with Montana State last month.

The MSU coaches “got me very well recruited,” Anaya said. More than anything, they stayed in constant contact with him. MSU running backs coach Jimmy Beal, who recruits from Arizona, started his correspondence with Anaya not by texting about football, but about a Los Angeles Lakers game, Anaya said.

“You could tell he was just a great guy,” Anaya said. “He talked about football, but he obviously cared about my life, my family, my hobbies, everything I did outside of football, which really stuck with me.”

The Cats offered Anaya a full scholarship over the summer when Anaya attended MSU’s camp.

“That day at camp, he was clearly the best receiver,” MSU head coach Brent Vigen said after Anaya signed Dec. 15 at the start of signing day. “No matter who lined up with him, he was going to open up, he was going to catch the football. Ran well, showed really good body control, really good hands.

Anaya only signed up at the end of November, a few weeks after his unofficial visit to Bozeman. He was present in MSU’s 20-13 win over Idaho on November 13.

Anaya had already attended a few NAU home games, which “were not sold out at all”, he said. All eight of MSU’s 2021 home games (all wins) were sold out and 19,447 people filled Bobcat Stadium on November 13.

“It really sold me, just seeing how many fans were there,” Anaya said. “The vibe was crazy. I was like, ‘God, I want to play here.’ »

Anaya said his best 40-yard sprint time was 4.44 seconds. He helped Hamilton secure a national ranking and reach the AIA State Championship Open Division semi-finals, where the Huskies lost to finish the season with an 11-1 record. Anaya led his team by wide margins in receptions (87), receiving yards (996) and touchdowns (17), and he added 87 yards and a rushing touchdown.

Anaya described himself as a “versatile” receiver. He highlighted his hands and his ability to create space, and he said he was good at making people miss in the open field. His time playing cornerback and safety in Hamilton helped him better understand coverage and manipulate defenses, he said.

“Really excited about what Christian brings to the table,” Vigen said. “He’s got a frame to build on, and we just feel like he’s going to get bigger and faster. He already has the fundamental skills for everything we look for in a receiver.

Anaya expects to contribute as soon as he arrives at Bozeman this summer, hoping to help fill the void left by All-Big Sky record receiver Lance McCutcheon. He’s eager to catch passes from Tommy Mellott and play in a balanced offense led by offensive coordinator Taylor Housewright and wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator Justin Udy.

MSU will play NAU next season on Nov. 5, a “homecoming” for Anaya, as he described it. The trip could also be a good reminder of why he signed up with a school over 1,000 miles north of Chandler.

NAU hasn’t played in December since 2003, five years into the tenure of new Montana State-Northern coach Jerome Souers. MSU has reached the December playoffs in each of the past three seasons. As they showed in 2021, the Cats intend to extend future seasons through January.

“I’m super excited and ready to play,” Anaya said. “I can’t wait to be a Bobcat.”

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