Rarified air: Where Matt Ludwig of Billings West, Kalispell Glacier's Jackson Presley rank among Montana's all-time recruits (2024)

Chris Peterson

HELENA —As a college football recruit, you know you've made it when you get a scholarship offer from the Georgia Bulldogs, which Billings West tight end Matt Ludwig received last Thursday.

The Bulldogs, winners of the national championship in 2021 and 2022, joined a growing list of college football powers that have entered the mix for the 6-foot-4, 235-pounder, who ranks among the best high school football recruits in Montana history.

As far as offers go, Ludwig, a rising junior, might already have the most impressive offer sheet in state history.

The Michigan Wolverines, the defending national champions, have an offer on the table, one of 19 power-4 offers Ludwig is considering.

Recruiting rankings have been around for decades, but the 247 Sports composite rankings have been the industry standard. Dating to 2000— 26 years of rankings— Ludwig is just the second composite four-star the Treasure State has produced.

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Yet, Ludwig isn't the only top-notch prospect in the 2026 class. Jackson Presley, quarterback for the Kalispell Glacier Wolfpack, is also ranked in the top 500 overall.

Montana has had five recruits rank in the top 500 overall in the rankings' history and two are in the 2026 class. Rankings can and will change. Presley and Ludwig could move up or down, but their recruitments have gone national like few in Montana ever have.

Keeping all that in mind, here's a look at where these 2026 prospects rank among the best high school football recruits in Montana history, according to the 247 Sports composite rankings (dating back to 2000).

1. Mark Anderson, DL, Lewistown, 6-7, 260 (4-star No. 65 overall in 2001)

Anderson was a man among boys when he played for the Lewistown Golden Eagles. He was a force on the football field and earned tons of awards and honors after his senior season (55 tackles, five sacks). Anderson was the 2000 SuperPrep National Player of the Year and a consensus first-team All-American. SuperPrep also dubbed him the No. 1 "Jumbo Athlete" in the nation.

Anderson attracted programs such as Notre Dame, Nebraska and Washington but wound up committing to Stanford. However, knee injuries cut his career short and he left the program after one season.

2. Matt Ludwig, TE, Billings West, 6-4 235 (4-star No. 241 overall in 2026)

Ludwig is easily the most sought-after recruit since Anderson and Ryan Leaf, who had offers from Miami and Colorado before committing to Washington State.

Nebraska was the first power-4 program to offer Ludwig. He's now got 15 and counting among Big Ten/SEC teams alone, including Oregon, Florida, Penn State, Missouri, Texas A&M, Auburn, Tennessee, Washington, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan State, Indiana and Arkansas.

As a sophom*ore, Ludwig caught 36 passes for 441 yards and caught five touchdowns. He also had 24 rushing attempts for 204 yards (8.5 per carry). His 11.44 100-meter dash time in the spring certainly doesn't hurt.

The Golden Bears standout, who also averaged 5.1 points per game for the basketball team, is ranked as the No. 11 tight end in the 2026 class.

3. Jackson Presley, QB, Kalispell Glacier, 6-2, 195 (3-star, No. 430 overall in 2026)

In his first season Glacier, Presley led the Wolfpack to the Class AA state championship game. He is from California and moved to Oklahoma before his freshman season of high school football, according to his 247 Sports profile.

After throwing for 3,053 yards and 28 touchdowns last season, completing 66 percent of his passes, Presley has garnered plenty of interest. He's up to 12 offers now, with six coming since January. Missouri, Washington State, Boise State, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida State, and Texas A&M are among his top offers.

Rarified air: Where Matt Ludwig of Billings West, Kalispell Glacier's Jackson Presley rank among Montana's all-time recruits (1)

Missouri, which finished last season in the top 10, even sent its coaching staff to Montana to recruit Presley. He's ranked 32nd among quarterbacks in the 2026 class and there's still a chance he could play himself into being ranked as a four-star recruit.

T4. Colin Donovan, DL, Superior, 6-7, 260 (3-star No. 460 overall in 2004)

Donovan was all-state in three sports during his senior season with Superior. He was first-team all state on both sides of the ball and averaged 25 points, 13 rebounds, and close to three blocks per game on the basketball court in addition to being an all-state thrower in track and field. Washington State got him in the end, but Notre Dame was on his offer sheet along with Stanford, Colorado State and California.

He eventually switched to offensive line and spent three seasons at Washington State.

T4. Pernell Booth, Billings West, 6-3, 284 (3-star No. 460 overall in 2004)

Booth's recruitment in 2004 turned into an in-state battle between Oregon schools as the Oregon Ducks and Oregon State Beavers fought for his signature. Eventually, Oregon State got it.

Booth was ranked in the same spot as Donovan in the 2004 class, sharing No. 1 in Montana. The defensive lineman played in 40 games for the Beavers and registered 44 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. He also had one career sack.

As a senior for West, Booth was credited with80 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, 11 batted passes, eight quarterback hurries and five sacks. He also finished as the Class AA runner-up in the 275-pound weight class at state wrestling.

6. Matt Miller, Helena Capital, 6-4, 205 (3-star No. 558 overall in 2010)

Arguably the greatest player in Capital history, Miller was part of three state championship teams and led the Bruins to a fourth title game, losing to Great Falls CMR. Miller was part of a Capital program that won 33 games in a row and he scored a combined 41 touchdowns in his junior and senior seasons.

The Montana Gatorade Player of the Year for football also scored over 1,000 points in basketball and was all-state in track, too.

As a three-star recruit, Miller chose Boise State and made a tremendous impact for the Broncos, ending his career as the school's leader in receptions (244) as well as ranking third in receiving yards (3,049) and receiving touchdowns (29).

Miller burst on the scene with 62 receptions for 679 yards and nine touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in 2011 before catching 66 for 769 and five touchdowns the next season. In 2013, Miller had 88 receptions for 1,140 yards and 12 touchdowns, which ranked 10th in all of college football that season.

After his stellar career with Boise State, Miller signed with the Denver Broncos but injuries cut his pro career short. He's currently the passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach for Boise State after a stint at Montana State.

7. Reed Harris, Great Falls High, 6-4, 200 (3-star No. 639 overall in 2023)

Harris was an all-state football player for Great Falls High but he was also a 200-meter state champion. He was all-conference in basketball, too, and received plenty of interest before committing to Boston College.

Rarified air: Where Matt Ludwig of Billings West, Kalispell Glacier's Jackson Presley rank among Montana's all-time recruits (3)

Harris redshirted as a freshman, but played in four games and caught one pass. This past spring, under the direction of new head coach Bill O'Brien, Harris caught five passes for 91 yards and a touchdown in the Boston College spring game and he seems poised to contribute for the Eagles in 2024.

8. Brady Leaf, Great Falls CMR, 6-5, 205 (3-star No. 682 in 2003)

The younger brother of Ryan Leaf, Brady Leaf was the top-ranked player in Montana during the 2003 recruiting class. Interestingly enough, Washington State, where his brother played, was among the programs to offer but Leaf chose Oregon instead.

The 32nd-ranked quarterback in his class, Leaf played in 24 games for the Ducks. One of his best games was a 262-yard, two-touchdown performance in a 34-23 win over Washington State in Pullman. The former CMR quarterback threw for 1,660 yards and nine touchdowns in his career while completing 54.4 percent of his passes.

9. Brock Osweiler, Kalispell Flathead, 6-8, 235 (3-star No. 832 overall in 2009)

Osweiler won Montana Gatorade Player of the Year after accounting for over 3,400 total yards and 42 touchdowns as a senior in 2008. A onetime Gonzaga basketball commitment, he chose Arizona State over a slew of other Pac-10 offers.

Osweiler became the first Arizona State freshman to start at quarterback since Jake Plummer. In 2011, he became the full-time starter and passed for 4,036 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was the first Arizona State quarterback to ever pass for 4,000 yards in a season.

After declaring for the NFL draft, Osweiler went 57th overall to the Denver Broncos. In 2015 he started some games over Peyton Manning and threw 37 touchdown passes in his career compared to 31 interceptions. Manning took the starting job back in that same season andOsweiler won a Super Bowl ring as a backup.

Osweiler signed a four-year, $72 million contract with the Houston Texans that offseason and threw 15 touchdown passes the following season. His NFL career ended after the 2018 season with the Dolphins.

10. Jacob Anderson, Billings West, 6-6, 250 (No. 859 overall in 2023)

There are three recruiting classes with multiple players on this list— 2026, 2004 and 2023. Anderson joined Reed Harris as a top 1,000 recruit in the 2023 class and the 6-foot-6, 250-pound offensive tackle committed to Oregon State. The first-team all-state selection for the Golden Bears redshirted last season.

Other notable recruits in Montana history

The recruiting rankings don't always get it right. Scouting isn't an exact science after all. But going back beyond the 26-year-old 247 Sports composite rankings, some of the old rankings by Tom Lemming, another recruiting reporter, had a couple of other four-star recruits, at least in the 1999 class. Havre's Matt Kegel earned a four-star ranking from Lemming as did Pat Ryan, an inside linebacker from Billings West.

Kegel, a cousin of Ryan Leaf's, followed him to Washington State. The Blue Pony great who was a three-sport all-state standout in high school, earned the starting job for the Cougars in 2004 and threw 21 touchdowns that season. He also threw for 2,947 yards (55 percent completion percentage). In his final college game, Kegel led the 15th-ranked Cougars to a win over a fifth-ranked Texas team that had Vince Young as a true freshman in the Holiday Bowl 28-20 thanks in part to 202 passing yards and two touchdowns from Kegel.

Washington State finished that season ranked ninth in the final AP poll after 10 wins. Ryan ended up playing three seasons for Notre Dame and had a seven tackles game against Michigan in 2007.

As far as recruits, Ryan Leaf is probably the most notable exception. He might have made this list had there been a composite rankings system during his class in 1994. He remains the highest draft pick of any Montana-born player after going No. 2 overall in 1998. Helena High legend Pat Donovan, who played at Stanford and later for the Dallas Cowboys, also comes to mind.

Sixteen Montana-born players have been selected in the NFL draft since the launch of 247 Sports composite rankings and only one player — two-star Will Dissly of Bozeman— was ranked coming out of high school.

For tips, email: chris.peterson@406mtsports.com or text/call: 406-475-4292.

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Chris Peterson

Sports Editor: Independent Record/Montana Standard

Rarified air: Where Matt Ludwig of Billings West, Kalispell Glacier's Jackson Presley rank among Montana's all-time recruits (2024)

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