Montana State Bobcats football 2 (copy)

Montana State head coach Brent Vigen speaks as MSU President Waded Cruzado, right, listens during an introductory press conference on Tuesday at Brick Breeden Fieldhouse.

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After emphasizing continuity during Montana State’s head coaching search, the Bobcats finalized their staff Friday by keeping seven coaches and adding three.

Former North Dakota State cornerback Freddie Banks, who was a player when new Bobcats head coach Brent Vigen was there, will be MSU’s defensive coordinator. Taylor Housewright, who Vigen worked with for a season at Wyoming, will be the team’s offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Shawn Howe was named MSU’s defensive line coach, pending completion of a background check.

Brian Armstrong (offensive line), Jimmy Beal (running backs), Nate Potter (tight ends), Bobby Daly (linebackers), Kyle Risinger (secondary) and BJ Robertson (special teams coordinator and director of high school relations) will stay at MSU. Former Bobcats offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Justin Udy will work with wide receivers.

In an MSU press release, Vigen noted the Bobcats will make some adjustments to the team, but priorities on playing physical, running the ball and stopping the run will remain.

Housewright worked with Vigen at Wyoming in 2018 as an offensive graduate assistant with a focus on running backs and tight ends. They’re in the process of ironing out MSU’s offensive system. Vigen said he “could tell pretty quickly in our time together that he’s very sharp, has a good sense for offense and defense.”

“We see offense being played in a similar fashion,” Vigen said of Housewright, “being balanced but spreading the ball to a lot of playmakers, really being able to utilize the quarterback in different ways depending on his skill set, but still being grounded in the run game.”

Before 2020, Banks spent the past two seasons at Stephen F. Austin as a cornerbacks coach and recruiting coordinator. Before that, he worked for three seasons at Division II Midwestern State as recruiting coordinator and defensive backs coach.

He also was a defensive coordinator at Livonia High School in Louisiana for a year, and from 2013-14, he worked with cornerbacks and was a video coordinator at Nicholls. He was also a defensive backs coach and defensive play caller in 2012 and cornerbacks coach in 2011 at Division II Minnesota State-Moorhead.

Vigen said Banks’ knowledge of the secondary provides a “back-forward perspective calling the defense that (reflects what) we’re going to be about.”

“I could see the continued development, the maturity,” Vigen said. “Trusting (coaching peers) and their perspective of Freddie, we had a real healthy interview conversation and I felt Freddie was the best direction to go.”

Howe was a defensive quality control analyst at USC since 2019. He previously was there as a defensive administrative assistant in 2011 and a graduate assistant working with the defensive line in 2012.

In 2018, Howe was the defensive line coach at Coastal Carolina. He also was the assistant head coach and defensive coordinator at Dixie State (2015-17), the defensive line coach at Humboldt State (2013-14), an assistant strength and conditioning coach at Tennessee (2010), a graduate assistant at Memphis (2007-09) and a volunteer assistant at North Carolina State (2006).

He started coaching as the outside linebackers coach at Rocky Mountain College in 2004-05. He was a two-year starter there at defensive end from 2002-03.

“Shawn will be great on the field for his knowledge and his passion for defensive football,” Vigen said, “and he’ll be very relatable because a while back he was that guy from out of the area that came to Montana and had an enjoyable experience.”

Former MSU defensive line coach Byron Hout announced via Twitter on Tuesday night he was leaving the program. Hout was at Montana State for four seasons. Players in his position group earned all-Big Sky honors six times since 2016.

MSU director of operations Cole Moore will “pursue other football opportunities” and leave the staff, according to Friday’s press release. In 2016, Moore returned to MSU as an administrative associate and became the director of operations prior to the 2018 season. Moore played outside linebacker for the Bobcats from 2010-14. He was part of three Big Sky championships and was a two-time all-conference choice.

“I would be remiss not to mention Coach Hout,” Vigen said. “That move wasn’t reflective of his ability to coach, his commitment to this place or his passion for the players. It was a systematic change more than anything reflective of what I think of Byron as a coach. It’s apparent Cole Moore did a phenomenal job here, and he’s very well respected. I’m excited for his new opportunity.”

Udy was hired at MSU after the 2019 season. He was previously Texas Tech’s offensive quality control assistant and a defensive administrative assistant at Utah State in 2018. Before that, he spent three seasons at Division II South Dakota School of Mines as an offensive coordinator, recruiting coordinator and wide receivers coach. He was also an assistant head coach, special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach at Eastern Oregon, where he played quarterback and wide receiver from 2007-11.

Vigen said Udy’s situation was “unique” and that he was open to leaving a spot on staff open for Udy.

“It was apparent that he really relishes the opportunity to be at Montana State and has a great relationship with the offensive players,” Vigen said, “not just the quarterbacks, so to bridge the gap as we move forward I felt if he could coach receivers it would be good for our program.”

Robertson has been on MSU’s staff since 2016. He was the head coach at Montana Western, his alma mater, from 2013-15 before that. He’s played a key role in recruiting for MSU.

“It’s easy to see that BJ is great at building relationships,” Vigen said, “and his knowledge of the state of Montana and the high school coaches around the state will be valuable. His special teams units have had success, so he’ll be a valuable member of our staff.”

Armstrong has also been on staff since 2016. He’s also been the tight ends coach and offensive coordinator during his tenure at MSU. In his two years working with MSU’s offensive linemen, he has coached two all-Americans.

“The one guy I knew coming in more than anybody on the staff is Brian Armstrong,” Vigen said. “He came highly recommended by (former MSU and NDSU assistant) Courtney Messingham in particular, so that led me to get to know Coach Armstrong well enough that I felt really good about him. Your ability on offense, in my opinion and with the offense we want to run, starts up front. … He’s a relatively big-picture guy from an O-line perspective, he gets how it all works together, and certainly how the offensive line has played here is what solidified my interest in him when we were looking at filling that position.”

Daly’s been MSU’s assistant head coach and linebackers coach since 2019. He was at Idaho from 2013-19, rising from graduate assistant to operations director to linebackers coach in 2017-18. Daly was an all-American player with the Bobcats. In 2019, Troy Andersen was a first-team all-American and first-team all-Big Sky selection while primarily playing at linebacker, and Josh Hill was a first-team all-conference pick as well.

“Bobby’s playing career, his lineage here, is one thing,” Vigen said, “but his growth as a coach and his knowledge and passion for this place are tremendous. As players came through, in the time we spent together last week it was pretty evident that he would be a key component moving forward. At the same time, he was very open to what changes to the defense could look like and excited to learn from a different perspective.”

While working with the Bobcats’ safeties from 2017-18 and cornerbacks in 2019, Risinger has coached three all-Big Sky defensive backs. He worked as a Bobcats defensive intern in 2016 after one season as a graduate assistant at Indiana State in 2015.

“Kyle has really cut his teeth here,” Vigen said. “He came as an intern and has continued to earn trust and gain responsibility, and his passion for this place and the players and his knowledge were all very evident in the time we spent together.”

Beal became MSU’s running backs coach and recruiting coordinator after the 2019 season. He previously coached running backs at South Dakota State the year before and at Northern Arizona from 2010-18. Beal was a player on two of the Bobcats’ Big Sky championship teams from 2002-04 before finishing his playing career at Rocky Mountain College in 2005-06.

“Jimmy brings a lot of energy to the table from a recruiting perspective,” Vigen said. “He’s done a great job at different places and his knowledge of that region in particular, southern California to Arizona and into Texas, and his years of experience in this league, makes him the type of coach you certainly want on your staff.”

Potter has been coaching MSU’s tight ends since 2019. As a player at Boise State, he was an all-American and three-time first-team all-conference selection. After playing for the Arizona Cardinals from 2012-14, he began coaching at BSU. He was College of Idaho’s offensive line coach in 2018 before joining the Bobcats staff.

“I had some colleagues from Boise (State) that know Nate Potter real well, and it’s easy to see that he’s a rising star in this profession,” Vigen said. “He played in a real good program and his expectations coming from Boise are pretty high. He has NFL experience, and he’s the type of guy who’s wise beyond his years and really communicates with his guys well.”

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Colton Pool can be reached at or 406-582-2690. Follow him on Twitter @CPoolReporter.