As McCade O’Reilly navigated the college recruiting process, he had a concern. Though he was interested in Montana State, he questioned whether he wanted to remain in his hometown.

But while walking through MSU’s campus during a camp in mid-June, that all changed. He looked around and saw buildings he had never seen before. He realized his life in college would be completely different than the life he’s lived to this point.

“I just kind of noticed I really haven’t seen all of Bozeman,” O’Reilly said. “I haven’t experienced everything it has to offer.”

About a month after the recruitment-altering realization, O’Reilly announced his commitment to the Bobcats on Saturday. The 6-foot, 210-pound rising senior played a key role for the Hawks last season at both linebacker and running back and said he was primarily recruited to play linebacker in college.

He’s set to join his older brother, Callahan, who is entering his redshirt sophomore season with MSU, while his oldest brother, Payton, is entering his redshirt junior year as a tight end at Miami (Ohio). And as O’Reilly, who also had offers from Montana and Montana Tech, sought to continue the legacy of his brothers, he considered his own priorities.

“My brother and then also the engineering program. Those are two things I don’t think are available anywhere else,” O’Reilly said. “When it came down to it between U of M and MSU, that’s why I made my decision to go to MSU.”

As a junior last season, O’Reilly was named to the all-state first team at both linebacker and running back. He racked up 87 total tackles, third most on Bozeman, 17 tackles for loss, three interceptions and three sacks. He also rushed for 1,282 yards and 14 touchdowns on 176 carries.

He’s now the sixth player from last year’s Hawks team to sign or commit to playing for either the Bobcats or the Grizzlies. There are currently four former Bozeman players on MSU’s roster, plus incoming freshmen Ryan Lonergan (tight end), Joe Olson (running back) and Justus Perkins (offensive line) joining the Bobcats this summer.

“I’ve obviously had a lot of people that I knew playing here always so I thought it would be cool to play and basically follow in people’s footsteps,” O’Reilly said, “but at the same time experience that for myself.”

As the recruiting process ramped up this spring and summer, O’Reilly listened to advice from his brothers. Payton shared the importance of choosing a school he wanted to attend regardless of the athletic opportunities in case football doesn’t pan out.

Callahan, meanwhile, talked about his experience at MSU. He pointed out how much he felt the Bobcats’ coaches cared about their players, valuable insight that made an impression on his younger brother.

“That’s probably one of the bigger things because that’s hard to pick up on when getting recruited,” O’Reilly said, “because everybody obviously wants you. So everyone’s going to treat you very nicely, but once the recruiting process is over, you actually got to play for that team. That was helpful to actually get the true side of what the coaches are like.”

O’Reilly only overlapped with Callahan for one year in high school, so he didn’t truly have the chance to play alongside him. Now that the two will overlap in college for two years, O’Reilly hopes the two can take the field together.

But first O’Reilly has a senior year approaching after an impressive junior year. After Olson suffered an injury that sidelined him for the rest of the season, O’Reilly stepped in and continued the Hawks’ high production at running back.

After Bozeman’s undefeated regular season in football, O’Reilly went on to place second at 205 pounds at the Class AA wrestling tournament and helped lift Bozeman to a lacrosse state championship.

“He’s a heck of a football player and more importantly I just think he makes plays when you have to have them,” Hawks head coach Levi Wesche said. “We always talk about gamers, but he’s the kind of kid that brings it every practice, and then when the moment is big in games, he always seems to answer the bell.”

Paul Schwedelson can be reached at or 406-582-2670. Follow him on Twitter @pschweds.

Paul Schwedelson is a sports writer for the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.