Beau Donaldson is happy with the switch.
The former Missoula Big Sky standout is looking to build on a strong fall camp at linebacker for the University of Montana while still getting some carries at running back. The 6-foot-1, 233-pound junior recently had six tackles in a scrimmage.
"It feels great," said Donaldson, who redshirted last season while recovering from an ankle injury. "The defense is fun, fast and physical. It's a cool change. They don't really use a fullback where I'd be in I formation."
Donaldson played in 10 games in 2008, mostly on special teams where he had four tackles as a freshman. He rushed twice for 4 yards and had one catch for 4 yards. As a sophomore he played in 12 games, mostly on special teams and at fullback. His one carry was a 1-yard touchdown run against Portland State. He also had a 6-yard TD catch against PSU. He had 8 tackles on special teams.
Donaldson arrived at Montana with impressive credentials from high school. An all-state pick in football three times, he set a school record and led the state with 1,682 yards rushing for 23 touchdowns his senior season. He also tallied 13 sacks on defense. In all, he set 10 career records in football at Missoula Big Sky, including 3,749 yards rushing.
Q: As a Big Sky grad, who was a bigger city rival: Hellgate or Sentinel?
A: Probably their colors.
Q: Did you grow up in Missoula?
A: Born and raised just outside of Missoula.
Q: Besides Big Sky, where else did you go to school?
A: Target Range. (Kindergarten) through 8.
Q: Great. Now I know this will be difficult, but please rank the mascots of those schools in order from cuddliest to most dangerous.
A: Tigers, Eagles and then Grizzlies. Kind of get a little more sour every step you go.
Q: Besides Montana, what other schools showed an interest in you?
A: Montana State, Eastern Washington, North Dakota.
Q: Did you go to many games growing up in Missoula?
A: Yes, I went to a lot of them. Definitely the playoff games. It's a big family thing on my dad's side. We'd get together and have a good time.
Q: Any games that stick out?
A: The playoff game against Wofford sticks out for sour reasons. The playoff game where the goal posts got pulled down. I think it was UMass (it was Sam Houston State).
Q: Did you have a favorite Griz player while you were growing up?
A: I can't think of any that I followed really. Monte, maybe.
Q: As someone who has followed the Grizzlies as a fan and been a member on the inside, could the Grizzlies' season still be considered a success if the team fails to make the playoffs again?
A: I don't think so. It's not a success not making the playoffs.
Q: You missed all of last season redshirting with an ankle injury early on in fall camp. What happened?
A: I was at the park with some old friends from high school, and came down on it wrong and dislocated my (right) foot. It was just below the ankle joint.
Q: Have you personally sworn off hoops or did a member of the coaching staff offer you some strong advice when it comes to basketball and your football career?
A: Coach Pflugrad found out about it and said he'd be taking some (scholarship) money away from me if I played basketball again.
Q: You turned 22 at the end of July. Are you the oldest player on the team?
A: I think there are a few guys older on the team. I'm probably the oldest in my class since I have two years left.
Q: Speaking of age, and although his playing days were done before you were even 5 years old, what do you know about the name Bo Jackson?
A: Bo knows. That's what I know. (laughs)
Q: What about Bo Diddley?
A: Not a whole a lot about Bo Diddley. I've been called that by my dad a few times though.
Q: Bo Derek?
A: Not ringing any bells. I grew up without cable.
Q: Beau Bridges?
A: I'm not really good with names.
Q: Beau Hill?
A: Who's that?
Q: He's a professional bull rider from West Glacier.
A: That's cool. Good for him.
Q: You played on special teams primarily your freshman and sophomore years, but you also saw some time at fullback. All things being equal, on which side of the ball do you prefer to play?
A: I'd have to go defense. You're reacting off of what they do and you get to whack people. Just go downhill and be physical.
Q: You spent time at running back and at linebacker during practices in the spring. What about during the fall camp?
A: I'd say it's been about 85 percent on defense and 15 on offense. I've gotten a few short yardage reps, and they've thrown to me a few times.
Q: What needs to happen for Montana to have a shot at beating the University of Tennessee in the season opener?
A: We have to be sound and fast. We can't make any mistakes. We have to control the ball. The defense needs to make some big stops and the offense needs to put points on the board.
Q: Which outcome would you rather have: A victory over the Tennessee Volunteers on the road in front of over 100,000 of their fans, but losses to Big Sky rivals Eastern Washington and Montana State, or getting blown out by the football powerhouse, but beating the Eagles and the Bobcats?
A: Tennessee is a big game for us, but I feel the focus should be on winning the Big Sky, beating Eastern and Montana State, especially the Cats.
Q: The Grizzlies' depth at linebacker is one of the team's strengths with three returning starters and several key performers. Has it been determined where you will fit in on the depth chart?
A: The depth chart hasn't really been set yet. I've been getting reps with twos and threes. I've been in the mix with (Josh) Stuberg and a few other guys. They've been playing linebacker here for the four years that they've been here. They're some smart kids. Hopefully I'll be getting on the field.
Q: One of those starting linebackers is Jordan Tripp, a former high school teammate. What's something you can tell me about Jordan that a lot of Griz fans don't know about?
A: His favorite asset is his hair.
Q: What's your major?
A: Sociology. I'm also trying to get a minor in business as well. I've switched my major like three times already.
Q: Do you know what you would like to do after your football playing days are over?
A: There's a three-year manager program at Pacific Steel that I'd like to get in. I worked there this summer and I have an uncle that works for a corporate division in Idaho.
Q: What do you like to do when you're not concentrating on football?
A: Hunting, fishing, hiking, anything outdoors. Hunting is probably the biggest thing I miss the most because of football season.
Q: What's you're favorite eating establishment in the Missoula area?
A: I'd have to say the Mo burger (of the Missoula Club).