MISSOULA — Coming out of high school, Matthew O’Donoghue had one offer to play college football and that was at the University of Montana where he walked on to be the Grizzlies' long snapper.
It’s far from the most glorious position on the football field but it’s a role that O’Donoghue has both held and thrived in since he earned the starting spot back in 2017 as a redshirt freshman.
"Helping the team out in any way I can that would be the biggest thing possible because as a long snapper it’s not like you’re getting the fame," O'Donoghue said. "So you’re just looking to help people out in anyway you can."
That help comes in a number of ways for the redshirt senior. When watching a Griz practice, O'Donoghue becomes a utility man, and while practicing his long snapping, he'll shag balls for kicker Kevin Macias and punter Brian Buschini or he'll work as a scout team player, sometimes even at quarterback, to help the Grizzlies prepare.
But a staple at long snapper since 2017, O'Donoghue, a native of Santa Ana, California, has also been recognized for his work on the field with All-American honors in 2019 and preseason accolades this year. He's played in 44 total games in his Griz career, and on top of all of that, he's converted 2-point conversions in 2018 and 2019.
"(With) long snapping, the other team's not going to mess up your snap so it's only you yourself who can mess it up," O'Donoghue said about starting as a redshirt freshman. "It was more just getting used to playing at the college speed instead of a high school speed. But I felt like I got used to it pretty quickly my freshman year."
Though most fans know him, O'Donoghue said its a good thing if you don't know the long snapper's name because it means he isn't messing up, but at the end of the day, what makes a good long snapper?
"My dad always tells me you can’t bat .900 as a long snapper or else you get fired you have to bat 1.000 so consistency is the biggest thing for sure," O'Donoghue said. "The ball has to be on the money. Working on the things you’re not as good at, whether it’s spirals, speed, location. I mean you want to hit them basically (mid-torso) every single time so that was like my biggest thing I wanted to work on as I got older. Smaller strike zone."
After such a long and consistent career with the Grizzlies, O'Donogue said it's about the relationships he's built with teammates that have made his journey to Montana worth it.
"Probably my favorite thing here at Montana has been meeting all of these different teammates that I have because I’ve had probably close to 180 different teammates since I’ve been here so long now," O'Donoghue said. "I’d say just being around the guys like everyday, that’s probably my favorite part of being at Montana and then the atmosphere in Missoula is awesome, I love it.
"I love it up here, it worked out pretty well I think."