Kimball product Bo Donald takes on larger role for South Dakota State offensive line
Jackrabbits' junior expected to start at right tackle in 2022
BROOKINGS, S.D. — For parts of the last three seasons, South Dakota State University offensive lineman Bo Donald has gotten a taste of playing time for the Jackrabbits.
Now entering the 2022 fall season, Donald, a Kimball native, is taking his share of a starting role on SDSU’s offensive line, holding the right tackle starting job as the Jackrabbits completed their spring practices, including at the April 23 spring football game at the Sanford-Jackrabbit Athletic Complex indoor facility on SDSU’s campus.
“It’s been really good. I’m excited to work with these guys,” Donald said. “I feel like I have to raise my level of play, and that’s something I’m excited about and I’m eager to do for this team.”
As it stands now, Donald will be part of a new right side of the offensive line, along with junior right guard Evan Beernsten, of De Pere, Wisconsin, and sophomore center, Gus Miller, of Brookings. Senior left tackle Garret Greenfield is flipping over from the right side of the line to pair with senior left guard Mason McCormick, but each started all 15 games during the fall 2021 season for SDSU.
Ryan Olson, the Jackrabbits’ run game coordinator and offensive line coach, said the best aspects of Donald’s game — and the best aspects of great offensive line play — don’t have to be taught.
“We’re really excited about Bo,” Olson said. “The best thing I can say about Bo is that he plays really, really hard. You don’t have to coach effort or intensity at all with him. He naturally comes off the ball with a lot of violence and energy.”
Donald played in six games in 2021 and has played in 11 games over the course of the last three seasons, much of that in a reserve role. But he did get the chance to step in as a starter late in the 2021 regular season after current NFL Draft prospect Aron Johnson missed a game at left tackle, moving Greenfield over to that spot and Donald in at right tackle against the University of North Dakota. Donald followed up that start with playing time in an FCS playoff game against UC Davis.
”It’s really about getting those reps, and each of those helps you feel more comfortable and getting into your (pass-blocking) set,” Donald said. “I’ve noticed the impact of that this spring and it has really helped.”
Donald said he feels he has most improved with his ability to read the defense before the snap, with Olson commending Donald’s improvements with his flexibility and athleticism needed to play offensive tackle.
“Being a small-town kid, you never know necessarily what you’re going to get for football knowledge (when they arrive) and Xs and Os, and he is a really smart football player who picks up things fast,” Olson said. “He’s done a nice job this spring being assignment-sound and making the right plays.”
The influence of Greenfield and McCormick has been helpful, Donald said, as he gets ready to take on a bigger role, with the veterans willing to help out the newcomers to the starting roles on the offensive line.
“They’re pulling me off to the side and they’re always helping me out, talking about footwork or technique,” Donald said. “They don’t make me feel dumb for asking questions, and they’re trying to help make us all better. They’re great teammates.”
Despite the departure of former offensive line coach and offensive coordinator Jason Eck to become the head coach at Idaho, much of the Jackrabbits’ offensive scheme has remained the same, including on the offensive line. The familiarity involved with the offense has helped, as new players look to continue a strong tradition of explosive offenses in the FCS.
“All three of those positions are new, and so center, right guard and right tackle are going to be huge for us,” Olson said. “We really think we’ve got some guys that are leading from the front for us, and we’re excited for that.”
South Dakota State is set to open the 2022 football season at the University of Iowa on Saturday, Sept. 3, with a game time to be determined.