Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Many student-athletes who transfer from junior colleges to Division I schools have trouble adjusting. But it didn't take Chris Donaldson long to feel at home after arriving at Oklahoma State.
A 6-1, 295-pound senior defensive tackle for the Cowboys, Donaldson transferred from Coffeyville (Kans.) Community College during the 2008 season. While there were a few similarities between junior college and Division I, there were more differences.
"Junior college is pretty rough," said Donaldson, who is from Anderson, S.C. "You are on your own, you don't have training table and you aren't on full scholarship. You don't deal with a lot of the hype. You go from playing in the slums to playing in front of everybody. It is different and it was kind of a hard transition, but I think I handled it pretty well."
Not only was the support system different for Donaldson, but he also had to adjust to the style of play.
"When I first got here it was hard for me to adapt to the speed of the game because in junior college it is a different level than Division I," Donaldson said. "But I tried my best to just keep going and keep a positive attitude. I had to work harder, get faster, be more flexible. I had to become a player, and I had to do it fast."
The speed of the game wasn't the only thing he had to get used to. In junior college, Donaldson had the freedom to do workouts on his own, but that changed when he came to OSU.
"In junior college you work out on your own, and you determine your own success," Donaldson said. "Here it is more organized. Coaches are on you constantly."
Most student-athletes are wowed on their campus visits by the facilities or the athletic program itself, but Donaldson was impressed by the community and the people he met.
"When I came on my visit, the people here in Stillwater were unbelievably nice," Donaldson said. "I had never been in a community where people were so nice, not just because I am an athlete, but because I am just a person. I really like it here. I hung out with Tonga Tea a lot, and he was a really cool person and he was one of the people that made me really want to come here."
Donaldson became a Cowboys the year before defensive coordinator Bill Young arrived but he was excited to get to play for a coach of his caliber.
"Coach Young is one of the best coaches I have ever played for," Donaldson said. "He has taught me a lot, and he has brought a lot of my game out of me."
In 2009, Young helped transform the Cowboys into the fourth-best defense in the Big 12 Conference. The unit ranked 31st nationally in total defense, allowing 332.54 yards per game, while OSU's rushing defense allowed just 95.7 yards per game, which was among the best in college football and a school record.
Although Donaldson missed the opener against Georgia in 2009, he saw action in the final 12 games of the year and recorded nine tackles, six of those solo stops.
A year later, Donaldson finds himself in a starting role on the defensive line and is excited to get on the field and produce even more to help the Cowboys continue their winning ways.
"The team chemistry and the things that we do together are great," he said. "Team chemistry is what I really look forward to during the season."
After playing a secondary role in his first two seasons at OSU, Donaldson was eager to get the 2010 season underway and have a standout year.
"I am looking forward to having a really explosive year," Donaldson said. "I am looking forward to making a lot of plays and having a lot of good times on the field. I also look forward to coming together with my teammates every Saturday and us playing together."