BOZEMAN — Montana state football fans may have noticed that senior running back Isaiah Ifanse did not participate in senior activities ahead of Saturday’s Brawl of the Wild. That’s because this won’t be his last season.
Ifanse plans to return to MSU for the 2023 season, MSU play-by-play broadcaster Keaton Gillogly reported on Wednesday’s episode of the Bobcat Insider Podcast. Ifanse is also a “100% go” for the upcoming Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, Gillogly said.
Both pieces of information came from MSU head coach Brent Vigen on this week’s Bobcat Insider TV show, Gillogly added. The show was taped and will air Thursday at 9 p.m. on Montana CW.
The NCAA allows football players to play redshirts for one season as long as they play no more than four games that year. Ifanse has yet to field a redshirt in his career, and MSU can’t play more than four games for the rest of this season even if they make it to the national title game.
Ifanse missed all 11 regular-season games this year after undergoing knee surgery in the offseason. The Bellevue, Wash. native warmed up with his teammates ahead of the previous two games and was dressed in full pads for Saturday’s challenge against Montana at Bobcat Stadium. He didn’t play and the Bobcats didn’t need him. They ran for 439 yards and scored 55 points – both Cat Griz program records – in their blowout victory.
Fourth-seeded MSU has a first-round bye and will play Dec. 3 against the winner of this Saturday’s game between North Dakota and Weber State.
Ifanse was recognized by second-team All-America and first-team All-Big Sky last season after setting the MSU record for single-season rushing yards (1,623). He broke the record for a touchdown run in the fourth quarter of the FCS quarterfinals at Sam Houston, but also injured his knee while playing and as a result missed the semifinals game against South Dakota State. He played in the FCS title game against North Dakota State and rushed for 84 yards on 18 carries despite having less than 100%.
Ifanse has rushed for 3,461 yards in his career and is 185 yards from matching the career rushing record set by Ryan Johnson.
Ifanse joined the Cats in 2018 and played in all 13 games that fall. Injuries forced him to miss four games in 2019, and MSU did not play in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year’s semi-final game was the only one he missed all season.
MSU’s full-back RJ Fitzgerald is a senior, as are front-row wide receivers Ravi Alston Jr., Willie Patterson and Clevan Thomas Jr. The rest of MSU’s offensive starters, as well as several key backups, are juniors or younger.
The Cats lead the FCS with 6.59 yards per carry, and their 325.7 rushing yards per game is bettered only by Davidson, who runs the triple option. MSU pulled this off despite missing four of their best running backs for all or most of the season: Ifanse, Lane Sumner, Huntley Project graduate, Jared White, true freshman, Kaegun Williams, transfer from San Diego State. Quarterbacks Tommy Mellott and Sean Chambers each missed three games, and Marcus Wehr, who started with right tackle, suffered a season-ending injury Oct. 15 in Northern Colorado.