MISSOULA — Redshirt freshman safety Michael McGinnis has only played football for a few years, but his Griz fandom dates back to his elementary school days.
McGinnis, of Sidney, grew up watching Shann Schillinger make a name for himself at Montana at the safety position.
Nearly a decade later, McGinnis is suiting up at Montana at safety and is learning the tricks of the trade from both Schillinger and coach Bobby Hauck.
McGinnis has played in both games so far this season, recording two special teams tackles on punt returns against Drake.
And he's ready to help the No. 15 Grizzlies win this weekend on the road at Western Illinois.
Q: When did you start playing football?
"My freshman year of high school. I wasn't a big sports guy until then. I was only in swimming before that. I was a big swimmer. I loved swimming."
Q: What strokes did you do?
"I did them all. I was in the IM, 200 IM, 50 fly, 100 free, 50 free. I tried them all, backstroke, 100 back."
Q: How long did you swim?
"Fifth or sixth grade until my senior year. It kept me in shape. I love swimming. I really enjoyed it."
Q: What are you initial thoughts on Western Illinois?
"They're a good team. We're excited to play them. We're excited to go on our first road trip and see how well we can play on the road. We have a lot of things to work on — a lot of things to improve. So we really want to see those come through this weekend."
Q: What's it like playing for Hauck?
"It's awesome. It's like a dream come true in a way because I've been a Griz fan my whole life. I watched his past coaching when he was here. It was awesome to know that we were going to win pretty much all the time. Every Saturday morning I'd wake up, turn on the game and know that coach Hauck would have the team ready to go. It's kinda crazy to think now I'm playing for him and I'm playing for one of my favorite players, which is coach Shann. It's pretty awesome."
Q: What is your favorite spot around Missoula to either get food, chill, etc.?
"Honestly, I really, really like Kobe steakhouse. That is my favorite place to go get food. I tried it one day after a game with my family in town and it was pretty awesome. Other than that, just hiking around. I don't know what my favorite trail is though."
Q: What's the music you go to get pumped up before games?
"Classic Kanye, Drake and old school Eminem."
Q: What are your hobbies outside of football?
"Hunting, fishing. I just like being outside. Anything outside. I'm a big tech guy. I like drones and all sorts of computer stuff, anything like that. That and being outside. They're kind of the complete opposite things, but I like them both."
Q: Who's your favorite professional athlete?
"Marcus Mariota, easy. Marcus Mariota for sure. He's the best example of a person I can think of, of an athlete and a person. When he was at Oregon, his biggest offense was he got a speeding ticket. He wasn't late to any practices. He was the first one in, the last one out. Great quarterback, great person. He's always looking to help people out. You always see him in the news doing good things. Then on top of it he's an incredible athlete. He's super fast, mobile quarterback. Fun to play with on Madden and the old NCAA game. He's an all-around awesome dude."
Q: Any hidden talents?
"I can cook all right."
Q: What's your go-to, impressive dish?
"I like making a steak and rice stroganoff with some mixed veggies and roasted red potatoes. That's what I like. I like to know how to cook. It's a good change up from the Food Zoo. I didn't know how to cook at all until I got done being a freshman in the dorms. I was so tired of the Food Zoo that I wanted to learn how to cook."
Q: Why No. 14?
"I don't know. I just picked in it high school and then when I got here they gave it to me so I just stuck with it. It was the only one left in the jerseys when I was like a freshman, so I just picked it."
Q: Who was your favorite Griz football player growing up?
"Definitely coach Shann. He was pretty awesome to watch. I was here for the Appalachian State game. It was the semifinal to go to the national championship. It was super cold out, completely dumped snow at halftime. It was awesome. I sat under the scoreboard and I remember all the plays from that game. It was an awesome game. I've always liked safeties so coach Shann is one of my favorite Griz players. Also, I can't leave out some of the hometown guys, Terran Hillesland and Jon Skinner. I liked those guys growing up. Everyone knew who they were in Sidney."
Q: What does being a Grizzly mean to you?
"It means definitely working as hard as you possibly can and doing everything the hard way. I think that sums it up pretty good: doing everything the hard way and doing everything the right way."
Q: If you were deserted on an island and you could bring three things with you, what would they be?
"I'd try to bring a friend. Then I'd bring a water purifier because that's going to be necessary and then some flint and steel to start a fire."
Q: What would you do if you won the lottery?
"Make sure it was invested correctly and then buy that house on Flathead Lake, the island. I'd buy that and live there in the summers and then I'd live in Big Sky in the winters. Those are my two favorite places, Flathead and Big Sky."