Featured Athlete
Mitch Negangard
Mitch Negangard
Football
October 7, 2015

Mitch Negangard made a pretty good impression on his first day at a new job.

A linebacker dating back to his pee-wee football days, Negangard learned he may be switching to safety just days before Saturday's game at Trinity International.

"Monday, I got a call from the coaches and they asked what I thought about playing safety. I said I'd do whatever they needed me to do," the junior from Sidney, Ill., said. "Then Saturday came and I was playing safety."

It turned out to be a fantastic debut.

Playing at free safety for the first time in his career, Negangard came up with 12 total tackles, including 1.5 behind the line of scrimmage, and forced four fumbles in the Bees' 41-13 win at Trinity International.

He helped the Bees limit the Trojans to 348 yards of total offense while forcing four of TIU's eight turnovers.

"All the credit goes to the guys in front of me. It's a collective effort. Guys beat me to the ball and stood them up, then when I got there, I just punched it out.

"Coach (Tom) Anthony and Coach (Wes) Fleming have been so helpful and they put me in the right spot at the right time. Joe Marconi and the other safeties took me under their wings all week to help me out. The other defensive backs were so helpful. Without them, it would have been a nightmare."

Negangard was able to make the move thanks to SAU's tremendous depth at linebacker. Seven linebackers with significant varsity experience returned from a year ago, giving the team some options. Former linebacker Harrison Hale was the first to make a switch, moving to defensive end prior to the team's season opener.

"All the linebackers on the team are athletes and we have so much depth there. We're fortunate but it's also frustrating as good athletes are sitting on the bench because of our depth. The coaches are trying to get the best players on the field so I'll play wherever they need me."

With Negangard preparing for Saturday's home game against No. 22 St. Francis (Ill.) as a free safety, he realizes he needs to continue working on the mental side of the position change.

"I've always been a linebacker and had that linebacker mentality to go downhill. I'm used to moving forward. At safety, I need to sit back and be more patient. It's also different because I am used to running into 300-pound linemen and now I'm covering 180-pound guys who like to run. So far it's been a good transition and I think I've handled it all right."