The switch was made to try to help get some more speed on the defensive side of the ball. Erickson was known for his swarming, intense defenses at Miami and Oregon State and the move seemed like it could be a genuine success for all parties.
However, McFoy struggled with his new position. He was never able to add enough weight, had trouble picking up assignments and playing disciplined and got lost behind some more experienced players.
Now a senior, McFoy has been switched back to safety and is flourishing in his current role. Through two and a half weeks of spring ball he has made enough plays to earn the starting spot next to sophomore Clint Floyd, and is receiving glowing reviews from Erickson.
"(Switching to linebacker) was difficult," admitted McFoy. "It was definitely difficult for me but I just stuck with it. I am very happy to be back at safety.
"I feel good, but I'm exhausted. It's been hard switching back to safety but I'm just learning and going with the flow. I'm just trying to learn my assignments, be 100 percent assignment sound on the field, lessen my mistakes and get better as a player."
McFoy may have benefited greatly from a redshirt year, but that was a luxury he never got to afford. An abundance of talent, lack of depth and departed players kept McFoy from ever getting that chance.
All the adversity he faced over his career is now paying dividends though. Going through multiple coaching and positional changes forced McFoy to be a quick learner and taught him how to use his time effectively.
"I worked very hard (this offseason). I gained a little weight and did some extra training. I worked my tail off, really," said McFoy. "Coaches told me after the USC game (that I was moving back to safety). It was so I could learn more during the season. That was basically the learning process I had to go through. During winter I was just busy in the film room studying, going over the playbooks and now that it's spring ball I'm just trying to put it all on the field."
Through two and a half weeks of spring ball the defense, as well as McFoy, has looked dangerous, dominant at times. The speed and physicality that are hallmarks of Dennis Erickson defenses are starting to show for the Sun Devils.
The unit is relatively young and lacks experience, but there is a definite confidence that exudes from them on the practice field.
"We're confident but we have a lot of work to do. We're a young group but we're very talented. We catch on quick." Commented McFoy.
The group is going to need to improve upon the progress they showed last year if 2009 is to be a successful year for the Sun Devils. They may need to even carry the offense if the senior class wants to get the stale taste of last season out of their mouths. McFoy has a number of goals, improving upon a sub .500 record being one of them.
"Not to have a 5-7 season," he said. "Go to the Rose Bowl, that's the team goal. I want to do my best and get five picks. Try to get defensive player of the year if I can, just all of the above basically. My number one goal is for us to have the number one defense in the Pac 10."