When you leave your hometown for college, you leave a lot of things behind. Your family, friends and everything you once knew is thrown out the window temporarily and you forge a new home and plant your roots elsewhere.
When McCauley Todd left home from Iowa to join the University of Montana football team, he certainly had to say some goodbyes, but what he has found in Missoula is a new perspective. An avid fan of the outdoors, Todd has loved his time in the Rocky Mountains, picking up a new hobby in fly fishing over the past year.
While he didn't see a ton of action for the Griz in his first few seasons -- he's now starting at left guard on the offensive line, though -- Todd has been around the program for three seasons and knows how things go on the Montana sideline. Part of the offensive line, the Iowa native will continue to look to make an impact this season for new coach Bob Stitt in whatever way he can, be it on or off the field.
The Missoulian spoke with McCauley before an October practice that saw Montana preparing to right the ship against North Dakota. Having had a week off since their loss to Weber State, can Todd and the Grizzlies remain in the talks for playoff contention?
Q: Where did you go to high school and how would you describe your prep experience?
A: I went to Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. I loved my high school. My junior year I didn’t really play because I was hurt and I had some guys who were veterans in front of me. I played pretty well my senior year and here we are. I still keep in-touch with a lot of my old teammates.
Q: What is your major and why’d you choose that?
A: I am a history major with an African-American studies minor. I chose that just because I’ve always been interested in history. I knew it was something I could study and be interested in, not just work to get through it.
Q: In high school, I heard you finished with a 3.7 GPA and you’ve always been pretty focused in the classroom. What pushed you to have that education-first mentality?
A: I just wanted to work hard for my parents. I wanted to make sure I set myself up to do well later in life.
Q: Iowa and Montana are sort of similar in that they don’t get talked about a lot nationally. What have you noticed as some similarities or differences in the two states?
A: They are both places, like you said, where people who aren’t from there say they wouldn’t wanna go there or whatever. But once you get here, you realize it isn’t that bad. In Montana’s case, with the natural beauty of the mountains, rivers and lakes, you don’t have much of that in Iowa. As far as similarities go, the people are really nice and warm in both states and they have a lot of pride in where they’re from, be it an Iowan or a Montanan.
Q: You guys have completed a good chunk of the season, so what have been your takeaways thus far?
A: Obviously, things haven’t exactly gone as we envisioned it. We’re a tight team, we’re trying to work on coming together and building on what we’ve done and keeping our goals in mind. We control our own destiny and we have to do everything we can to be prepared to leave it all on the field.
Q: You guys had a week off to refocus and readjust, so what is the team looking to key in on against North Dakota?
A: We have to get back to solid assignments and being physical. We have to minimize mistakes, but at the same time we can’t hold back and we have to play fearless.
Q: What is the O-line specifically looking to build on?
A: We have to be physical, be the baddest guys out there. Get our assignments locked in so we can play fast football. That’s all we think about.
Q: Speaking on fast football, has it been hard at all adjusting to the pace of Stitt’s new system where players are expected to be constantly moving?
A: It definitely took a lot of work to get in-shape for it. It’s fun. It’s great when we do get rolling because at our peak, defensive lines aren’t built to handle that and they need to rotate in and out a lot which creates confusion and they can’t get into rhythm or they’re playing 10 plays in a row and they get exhausted. So we prefer to be 10 plays deep versus only a couple plays. As an O-line, we’re proud of the speed we’re playing at.
Q: Having been around the team for a couple years, what advice do you give to the younger guys to help keep their head on straight?
A: My biggest thing in my experience has been: don’t waste time to do the right thing. Get going right away and figure out what you want to do. Sometimes for guys it takes a year or two to figure out your place and your goals, it’s a lot different than high school ball. Don’t regret anything, go at it and work your butt off and good things will happen. Keep your head down and trust the process.
Q: You have above average size, being bigger than most O-line guys around the conference. How do you look to utilize your strengths as a player?
A: Gotta be physical. I’ve never been the strongest or the fastest, but I’ve always prided myself on being physical and technical with my movement. That’s what I focus on. Any scheme can be penetrated and that’s the mentality that I play with.
Q: Favorite television show? What is popping up in your Netflix queue?
A: The Office is my all-time favorite TV show, and I also like It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
Q: Favorite spot around Missoula?
A: I’ve really gotten into fishing the past year and I love hitting up the Blackfoot, the Clark Fork and just generally around the area, it’s something in Iowa I don’t normally have access to.
Q: Favorite song or musician at the moment?
A: I really like Isaiah Rashad (Top Dawg Entertainment rapper).