Havre Daily News sports editor
As February approaches, the college football recruiting season is in full swing. And Montana State University-Northern head football coach Mark Samson has already nailed down seven transfers who will play for the Lights next season.
Headlining the list are three wide receivers, including a Division I-A dropdown, and two former Havre High School standouts.
Samson has announced that former HHS wide receiver Coda Tchida and defensive end Ricky Houim will both be in a Lights uniform next season. Both players are members of the Havre High Class of 2005, and both were integral pieces of Havre's 2004 Class A state championship football team. Both players were enrolled at the University of Mary in Bismarck, N.D., last fall.
Houim, who played on the Mary junior varsity team, was an all-state defensive end his senior year for the Blue Ponies and he also earned all-conference honors at tight end.
Samson said he intends to keep Houim on the defensive side of the ball.
“Ricky is a strong defensive end with really good speed,” Samson said. “I think when he gets everything down, he can be a very good defensive player at this level.”
Tchida gives the Lights some much-needed breakaway speed on offense, and his journey to MSU-N has already been well chronicled. But Samson is also bringing in two other wide receivers with a wealth of college experience, including Oregon State transfer Nick Bodeman (5-11, 180).
Although he was a walk-on at OSU, which finished last season with a 5-6 record in the Pac-10, Bodeman saw extensive playing time in 2005 and was a backup to All-American wide receiver Mike Haas.
Bodeman also starred for two years at Lewis & Clark College in his hometown of Portland, Ore. In his freshman season at Lewis & Clark he led the nation in receiving, and for his career there caught 81 balls for 1,371 yards and nine touchdowns.
“Nick Bodeman is one of the guys that we expect to come in here and have an immediate impact on our program,” Samson said. “He has played football at the highest collegiate level and what is so impressive about him is his route running and his ability to get open. He is a player who fully understands how to play his position.”
The third receiver that Samson has brought in is former Columbus High School standout Josh Orcutt (6-2, 185). As a senior at Columbus, Orcutt played in both the MonDak Bowl and the Montana East/West Shrine Bowl. Orcutt played one season at Rocky Mountain College in Billings and will have three years of eligibility at MSU-N.
“Nick is a proven player and Josh Orcutt is a tremendous athlete. Coda Tchida is a player we're very happy to have,” he said. “Obviously he has tremendous speed and once he fully learns how to run good routes, he is going to be extremely successful in our conference.
“The thing I really like about all three of these guys is their attitude,” Samson added. “They are all good receivers and they have come in here with a desire to be even better, and they have very big goals. That is exciting to be around.”
Samson is also hoping that 6-1, 282-pound offensive lineman Jeremiah Wright will have an immediate impact on the Lights' program. Like the wide receiver position, the offensive line is an area of need in 2006, and Wright has the experience to step into a starting role, Samson said. Like Orcutt, Wright is also transferring from RMC, and is originally from Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
“We're hoping that Jeremiah Wright can fill a void for us on the offensive line,” Samson said. “He is a big kid and he knows how to play the position.”
Northern is also getting a familiar face in Eastern Oregon transfer Cort Milks. The 6-0, 200-pound defensive back from Rathdrum, Idaho, played at MSU-N for two seasons under former head coach Walt Currie before transferring to EOU. Milks saw extensive playing time in the secondary for EOU when it hosted the Lights in 2004. He missed the 2005 season due to a knee injury, but has since recovered.
Samson also landed running back Aaron Ingels (6-0, 195) from Littleton, Colo. Ingels made his way to Havre via former Light Jordan Smith, who recommended Ingels to Samson. Ingels was a standout fullback for Columbine High School, but has since slimmed down and will play tailback for the Lights.
“We're excited about Aaron Ingels and Cort Milks because they are both tremendous athletes,” Samson said. “Cort also brings some experience with him, so we expect him to step in and contribute right away.
“But in the long run I think all of these guys we're bringing in will really help our football team,” he added. “They are already working out hard and they all bring a great attitude of wanting to improve and get better in order to help this team win.”
All seven of the transfers are attending the spring semester at MSU-N and will be eligible for spring drills, which are a mere two months away. Meanwhile, Samson is still hot on the high school recruiting trail. He expects to announce those commitments sometime in the next few weeks.