BUTTE — Jace Fitzgerald is excited to be coming home, but he's thankful for the memories and friendships he made during his three seasons in Bozeman.
"It was super special, I don't take anything for granted," he said on Tuesday at the Butte Civic Center where he watched his younger sister Halle and the Dillon girls basketball team defeat Butte High in a non-conference game. "I made a lot of lifelong friends there. We had a lot of success over the past three years and it was a fun place to be."
Shortly after Montana State's 2023 football season came to a close, the Dillon native and Bobcat linebacker entered the transfer portal and subsequently signed with his hometown college Montana Western where the redshirt sophomore will have two seasons of eligibility remaining beginning with the 2024 season.
Excited to announce that I will be continuing my College Career at The University of Montana Western! Go Dawgs! pic.twitter.com/kwX0rEqVkl— Jace Fitzgerald (@jacefitz) December 11, 2023
"Any time you can play in front of your hometown, I think it's super special," he said. "I can't wait to get to Dillon, get to school and just get to work.
"I thought it was the best decision for me as a football player. Thankfully Western welcomed me with open arms."
The former Beavers quarterback will be joining the reigning Frontier Conference champion Bulldogs who are coming off their first home playoff game since 1993. He'll also be reuniting with some former high school teammates, including receiver Jon Kirkley, running back Pete Gibson and receiver Eli Nourse who earned AP All-American honors following a standout true freshman season.
"I've known those guys forever, so it's definitely nice going somewhere where you know some people and you already have some of those relationships built," he said.
Fitzgerald saw limited action during his time with Montana State and will look to play a larger role with the Bulldogs, who are hoping to be playing on a new on-campus turf field next fall.
"Figuring out what my role is on the field is something I'm gonna have to earn, and I plan on doing that," Fitzgerald said. "I think I can make a huge impact."
Fitzgerald will be the second of his siblings to suit up for Western. His older sister Brynley wrapped up a stellar All-American career with the Bulldogs' women's basketball team last season.