Ballhawk defender Jayden McDonald has had a busy spring. Since picking up his first offer from Rutgers in late March, the rising outside linebacker is now up to 11 offers.
The Suwanee (GA) North Gwinnett standout had a memorable junior year campaign, totaling 82 tackles, five sacks, eight tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles. With abilities to rush the passer, attack the run, and rove the second level to defend the pass, McDonald has appealed to college recruiters due to his versatility.
The 6-foot, 209-pounder has taken unofficial visits this spring to Auburn and Rutgers. Next month, he will visit at least three others before making a July commitment.
"My first couple of visits will be to Bowling Green and Toledo, which is June 11 and 12. Then I'm going up to Colorado State June 17," McDonald said. "There's still some others down the line, but I haven't planned any yet. I'll probably get up to Ole Miss, as well as Iowa State and Wake Forest."
Four schools in particular are standing out to McDonald. However, with new schools showing interest by the day, he admitted he will keep the recruiting process wide open until announcing his commitment.
"I'm favoring a couple schools right now. The top schools I'm looking at right now are probably Rutgers, Colorado State, Toledo and Bowling Green. There are other schools I'm looking at, but those are the schools that are catching my attention the most," said McDonald, who went on to describe what he likes about each school.
"Rutgers, they were the first to offer. Every time I talk to them, the coaching staff makes me feel at home. Like, they make me feel like a priority. They plan to use me how I want to be used.
"Colorado State, Coach (Joe) Cox, I talk to him just about every other day. He tells me how I'll make a big impact in their program. They'll be a great fit for me. I just have to get up there and visit. Toledo, Coach (Mike) Bellamy and Coach (Mike) Ward - Coach Bellamy actually came to the school just to check up on me. He wants me to be successful in the classroom. He talked to me about how it's going to be more than football when you get to college. That really builds me up.
"Bowling Green, Coach (Matt) Brock has been telling me how I'm a big priority in their program, too. I told him I'm majoring in Business, and their school is big on their Business program. That's another reason Bowling Green catches my eye."
With a commitment announcement scheduled for early July, McDonald said his unofficial visits will play key roles in whether he feels comfortable at a school or not. Proximity to home will not factor heavily into his decision.
CSU tight ends coach Joe Cox has built a steady and tight bond with McDonald this spring while out recruiting the Peach State. Cox has pitched a variety of strengths for the Rams.
"He has been telling me I'd like Fort Collins," McDonald said of Cox. "The new stadium they're building, he's been hyping up, about how the stadium is just finishing up and how they like to recruit dudes from the South, because they know that we take football serious. He said he knows I'll be a baller at Colorado State if I came. He just wants me to get up there and see the place. That's what I'm looking at to do on the (June) 17."
McDonald went into the recruiting process already knowing about the CSU program.
"Actually, my aunt used to live in that area, so she tells me a lot about that. I have never been to Colorado before, but hearing from my aunt, she's been telling me some really great things about it," he added.
Of his film, McDonald said Cox has gushed over his speed, the way he attacks the ball and how he makes big plays in a variety of ways.
"He also likes how I stretch the field sideline-to-sideline. He likes my energy, most of all."