ASHLAND — Senior quarterback Mike McDonald was named starting quarterback for the Southern Oregon University football team, head coach Craig Howard announced on Tuesday.

ASHLAND — Senior quarterback Mike McDonald was named starting quarterback for the Southern Oregon University football team, head coach Craig Howard announced on Tuesday.

The Raiders open the season Saturday at Montana Tech.

McDonald opened the 2010 season as the starting quarterback and led SOU to a 2-1 record and a spot in the national rankings before suffering a compound fracture against Menlo in the season's fourth game.

"He's earned the starting spot," Howard said. "He's got a lot of savvy, his leadership is outstanding and the team rallies around him."

Howard praised McDonald's resilience in coming back from the season-ending — and potentially career-ending — injury, saying that the senior has come a long way since he first saw him last spring.

"In spring football if you'd asked me, I'd say it's never going to happen," Howard said, estimating that McDonald was playing at about 60 percent in the spring.

"I watched this guy hobbling out there," Howard recalled with a chuckle. "He walked worse than I did."

Hyperbole aside, Howard mentioned the difficulty of overcoming such an injury and the toll it can take on an athlete, not only physically but also mentally. McDonald worked all summer, training and slowly getting better as he regained his previous abilities.

With eight quarterbacks in camp, Howard estimated that McDonald entered the fall around seventh or eighth on the depth chart. But after three weeks, McDonald is ready to reclaim his role as starting quarterback for the Raiders.

"He's running this thing and I hope he has a great year," Howard said."