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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Following Weis to Kansas an easy call for ex-Irish linebacker

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Although text messages and social media have changed recruiting, the story of how linebacker Anthony McDonald landed at Kansas University pays homage to Ma Bell.

“There really wasn’t a recruiting pitch,” McDonald said. “When I saw (KU) coach (Charlie) Weis calling me, (I thought) ‘You want me, coach, I’m all yours. One more year.’”

Before taking the phone call from his former coach, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Notre Dame middle linebacker said he had no immediate football plans lined up for 2012. In fact, he had not even reached out to any other schools about playing out his final season of eligibility after graduating.

“I kind of knew in the back of my mind if coach Weis wanted me I was gonna go here,” McDonald said. “That (phone call) sealed the deal.”

Of course, it did not hurt that spending the next year at Kansas would mean a reunion with former Sherman Oaks, Calif., high school and Notre Dame teammate Dayne Crist, a guy McDonald called the best quarterback he’d ever seen and the kind of friend to whom he likes to give a hard time.

“Dayne gets mad when I say this, but Notre Dame offered me first,” McDonald said. “I’m just happy that we started our career together and we can end it together. It’s been a fun ride.”

Throughout the offseason, McDonald kept in close touch with his old friend and, little by little, began to learn about KU.

“He didn’t really recruit me,” McDonald said of Crist. “He just told me how great of a town this is. He told me how great the facilities are here, and I was like, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Dude, they’re better than Notre Dame.’ I didn’t believe him, but I came here and saw everything with my own two eyes.”

McDonald officially committed to KU after graduating from Notre Dame in May and reported to campus at the beginning of June. Since then, it’s been nothing but good vibrations for the California kid and the Jayhawks.

“We counted on him giving us a physical presence and leadership, and then anything he could contribute to us on the field we’re really, really happy about,” KU linebackers coach DeMontie Cross said. “So far, he’s come in and done exactly what we’ve asked him to do.”

Listed as a starter at middle linebacker on KU’s most recent depth chart, McDonald brings much needed grit and game experience to a fairly young unit.

“We knew he was a tackle-to-tackle type of a linebacker, we knew he’d be a pretty good hitter and that’s what we’re seeing,” defensive coordinator Dave Campo said.

According to McDonald, there are many differences between KU and Notre Dame, but he said they are not as much about football as one might think.

“(Lawrence is) a lot more of a college town,” McDonald said. “That’s the biggest difference. Everyone’s more welcoming, there’s a lot more pride behind the hometown team here. I like it a lot.”

Nine months ago, when McDonald thought about his future, he envisioned beginning his journey to join the CIA or FBI, lifelong goals that, for now, have been put on hold for one more season of smashmouth football.

“Coach Weis knows what I’m capable of, and I think it’s time to showcase that,” McDonald said. “I just really appreciate the opportunity coach Weis has given me, and I’m really gonna take advantage of that and run with it.”

Comments

Chris Bailey 2 years ago

I hope these transfers all come in and make huge contributions! Of course Lawrence is a great town! It's not Kansas, it's Lawrence! Let's hope that they all resurrect their careers here and play up to those star ratings.

Oh and FIRST

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nuleafjhawk 2 years ago

Silly rxdoc1973 - don't you know that FIRST is of utmost importance - over any and all things.

Keep "first" first and then you may rant and rave about Lawrence. Lol.

BTW - it was pretty cool to hear Crist saying that our facilities are better than ND's. I hope many other potential recruits figure that out as well.

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jhox 2 years ago

It is great to hear that about the facilities. Too bad the stadium / game day atmosphere isn't at that level yet. But I will say that it is a beautiful setting on a nice fall day when the stadium is full. I like the open end of the stadium with the view of the hill. I just hope we start filling it up every single game.

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Dirk Medema 2 years ago

I'm expecting stadium reno comments from Dr Z by the time we go to the Pinstripe Bowl this December.

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troutsee 2 years ago

This guy has made great points about the KU campus and the city of Lawrence. What a great place to attend college. Those two observations are great selling points for our program. I continue to feel very optimistic about the committment of our coaches and players and think we are going to be quite relevent in the Big 12 this year. Our stadium is going to rocking this year.

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vd 2 years ago

After this year the ND pipeline dries up. Where are we going to get our starters from?

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Dirk Medema 2 years ago

Watch what happens when Rob and Reggie get going. There are a number of quality recruits that are considering KU. They're just waiting to see that CW & co are putting a quality team on the field. The deal will be sealed when they visit and see the facilities.

I'd expect about half as many JC's this year as last at strategic positions, with more quality from the HS's.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

Jake Heaps, Turner Baty, Schyler Miles, Justin McCay, Ty McKinney, Jordan Tavai, Greg Allen, Tevin Shaw, Taylor Cox, Aslam Sterling, Charles Brooks, Josh Ford, Keon Stowers and many more... not from ND.

Surprised you didn't know that.

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number1jayhawker 2 years ago

Greg Allen is a freshman, just out of high school.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

So is Schyler Miles. What's your point?

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Thomas Young 2 years ago

The hope is that CW gets this team to overachieve and it starts the pipeline of recruits actually coming to Kansas to play with NFL caliber coaches, great facilities, and play in an elite conference where they will get an opportunity to start sooner than the top teams.

For that, we may need six wins, though. I'm hopeful, but not confident. But make no mistake, as much as we want to see an improvement, it is going to be crucial that the Jayhawks come off as a well run program.

Getting Crist, Mike Ragone and Josh Williams into the NFL might even lure some more fifth-year types if the NCAA doesn't close that loophole.

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Gary McCullough 2 years ago

Coach has also brought in some good juco players. Snyder has made a living off juco players. Most of them have more experience that juniors recruited out of high school because those juniors had to sit behind the upperclass, unless they were good enough to jump ahead in the line.

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Dirk Medema 2 years ago

“We knew he was a tackle-to-tackle type of a linebacker"

That translates to "he's a step slow"? Guessing he'll be stuffing running teams and mostly mentoring come conf time. Still good to have around the team.

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KGphoto 2 years ago

Huldon Tharp is a sideline to sideline guy, Tunde Bakare and Prinz Kande too, but you won't be setting them up in the middle and telling them to stuff anything between the tackles. This guy packs a punch and, IMHO, If he can paste the guys between the tackles, we can leave the sidelines to the sideline guys. We still need a big hitter up the middle, even in spread conference play.

Besides, even though the spread isn't dead, it is going to be a down year for it. Okie St. will rely more on the run with their frosh QB. TCU will run a lot. Texas is troubled at QB, but stacked at RB. RGIII is gone. K-State runs all day. Hell if McDonald can figure out Klein's read option (stay in his gap) he'll be worth his salt.

I think McDonald is going to be more than a mentor. He'll be a valuable asset throughout conference play.

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DocPossum 2 years ago

On defense everyone has their job. If McDonald's job is to call plays and control the area between the tackles and he does his job the defense will be much better. His job is to clog the middle and help set up the defense. The outside LBs and DBs must cover sideline to sideline. He's not going to be covering anyone on a fly pattern. That's another job.

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notjustbread 2 years ago

he sounds like he likes to smash things...good sign

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