When Kyriq McDonald committed to the Alabama Crimson Tide in late July, it added not only an in-state standout, but one of the most versatile defenders around. BamaMag sources close to the program likened him to Tyrann Mathieu, who despite less than ideal size made an important impact on defense at special teams at LSU.
On Friday night, in seeing him in full-pad action for the first time, there were many examples as to why the comparison has been made. He returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, added an interception return for a touchdown later in the quarter, made big hits on the edge and inside before capping his night with a 50-yard direct snap he took around the edge to seal a Madison (Ala.) James Clemens win over Pinson (Ala.) Clay-Chalkville (full video above).
"It always feels good to showcase your talents in front of people," he said. "You just grow up, doing something you love all the time, why not show it? If you've got the talent, why not show it?
"I can be on the D-line, nose guard, it doesn't matter, as long as I'm making plays on the field I can't ask for more. I'm just excited to play every down."
Leading the Jets secondary and lining up at corner, deep safety and as a down safety, McDonald says he works on all phases of his game equally.
"Practice makes perfect, perfect your craft every day and let it pay off Friday night," he said.
McDonald put on the show with Alabama coaches Mario Cristobal and Karl Dunbar in attendance Friday night, too.
"My heart keeps me committed," he said. "'Bama gave me a chance and it's just one of the teams I grew up wanting to play for and it's in-state.
When the commitment went down, it appeared as if several schools would later host the three-star on campus. Those plans are no longer in place.
"Louisville officially offered me but nobody else is really trying with 'Bama on me 24/7," McDonald said. "I'm not sure what visits I'll take yet."
The senior was back in Tuscaloosa Saturday for its win over Kent State, his second trip there in three weeks. An official visit to UA is the only trip he knows he'll make going forward.