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Jack Colletto wants to be on the football field.

And he doesn’t care what position he has to play to make that happen.

Oregon State’s third-string quarterback for most of last season, Colletto thought long and hard about his role in that position and decided the best move for him to find his way on the field would be to make a change.

So he contacted head coach Jonathan Smith with a proposition this summer.

What if Colletto moved to linebacker?

Smith thought it over and when he and Colletto eventually sat down to talk, player and coach were on the same page.

“I want to play football and be on the field so I felt like that was the best way to get me on the field,” the 6-foot-3, 224-pound junior said Saturday after his third practice at his new position. “At the end of the day I felt like if I try something different I can give myself an extra opportunity to compete and be on the field.”

It was a tough decision at first for the transfer from Arizona Western College, but he’s come to grips with it.

“I think it was at first just making the decision but I felt like after I made the decision I’m happy with it,” he said. “I try to live life not looking in the rearview mirror. Never looking back. I’m happy about the decision and having fun and enjoying it.”

The move from quarterback to linebacker has been a challenge physically for Colletto as far as the tempo and the amount of contact his body takes each day in training camp.

“You’re tired,” he admitted. “You don’t get that at quarterback. So your body hurts, it aches, so I’m trying to do extra and try to take care of my body in terms of recovery.”

Playing linebacker seems a perfect fit for a player who even as a quarterback enjoyed the physicality of the sport. Colletto was brought in many times last season in short-yardage situations so he could run from the QB position.

He finished with 31 carries and five rushing touchdowns in eight games, including a start at Colorado. As a passer, Colletto was 23 of 47 for 201 yards and three interceptions.

Smith mentioned at media day last week that Colletto was making the switch but did leave open the possibility of using Colletto in some packages at quarterback.

Through the first three days, however, Colletto has remained focused on his new gig.

“During practice I try to stay at linebacker just so I can get reps and learn it but in my off time I try to get some reps in (at QB) when I can,” he said, adding the coaches haven’t talked about what they might want from him at quarterback.

Colletto has never played linebacker but was a safety his junior and senior years at high school, although his main focus was at quarterback.

So far, the transition has gone smoothly. In a one-on-one drill Saturday, Colletto was able to make a break on the ball and finished with a would-be one-handed interception.

“I’m trying to work on it,” he said. “It’s a lot different in drills than in an actual game in terms of reaction time and all that stuff but I feel like with experience I’m starting to figure all that stuff out.”

The linebacker room is stacked so getting on the field this season might be tough. That’s OK because Colletto has a redshirt year and has three seasons to play two.

“The plan for me is to redshirt this year but at the end of the day I’m willing to do what’s best for the team so if they need me out there then that’s how it’s going to be,” he said.

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Sports Editor

Sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald