Establishing a quarterback can be one of the most important pieces for a new, offensive-minded head coach. For Coach Nick Rolovich, recruiting a QB was a tough task on short notice. After missing on a few quarterbacks and having offensive coordinator Zak Hill leave the program, Hawaii found its match the day before signing day in Cole McDonald.
“It was the night before signing day,” McDonald said. “I was talking to coach Rolo way before he got the Hawaii Head Coaching job - when he was the OC at Nevada... Some stuff with the Bosco kid (Quentin Davis) didn’t work out. Then he offered me on the spot. He called me that night, offered me, and I took it. I ran with it. I’m excited to become a part of Hawaii and its tradition and culture.”
With only 24 hours left before signing day McDonald’s options included offers from Alabama A&M and Colorado Mesa. He had also drawn interest from Missouri, Nevada, San Diego, San Diego State, San Jose State, Washington State, West Texas A&M and a handful of Ivy League Schools.
McDonald was unsure of his future just days before National Signing Day.
“To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect,” McDonald said. “I was just letting everything unfold in front of me. I didn’t want to make any rash decisions, it’s the school I’m going to be a part of and will ultimately impact me for the rest of my career and the rest of my life.”
When he received the offer from UH, he made his decision that night to make the move to the Islands.
“I felt relieved first of all,” McDonald said. “It was a big offer on the table and it’s a big part of your life so I wanted to make sure it was the right choice. I was as excited as can be, not getting a lot of looks because I go to a smaller school even though I can still ball out the same as any other quarterback.
"It was just relief, all the hours and all my free time I spent training, throwing, working with my team, just to see it all come together was a great feeling and a great accomplishment that I was feeling and what others were feeling for me.”
McDonald had not been recruited on an official visit at that time, but had unofficially visited Hawaii the previous summer. His experience and relationship with Rolovich was enough to make the jump.
“It was a big decision I had to make,” McDonald said. “Family, friends, I thought about them. Not to sound selfish, but I wanted to be happy and go where I felt I can go and perform to the best of my abilities. My friends and family were all 100 percent supportive of my decision. It’s another step in life I'm going to have to take.”
Coming from a small school - Sonora HS in La Habra, California, made it tough for him to get on the recruiting radar. McDonald was unranked by Scout and came in as a two-star recruit.
“The process was slow,” McDonald said. “I went to a smaller school. No one really knows who Sonora is or what we’re about, so it was hard to get on the map. We had some pretty good ballers at our school, but I’d go to these camps and talk to these coaches and they’d ask what school I was from. I’d say ‘Sanora.’ They’d say ‘what’s that?’ I’d have to tell them, ‘You know La Habra? We’re a sister school.’ It’s just not having this edge like a St. John Bosco or a Mater Dei. For us at the smaller schools, we have to earn our name and put ourselves out there even more.”
McDonald comes from a read-option offense in high school and the Rainbow Warriors are expected to run some sort of read-option-based offense this fall. He comes in ready to compete at quarterback, but understanding a big jump in competition awaits him.
“I’m going to take the coaching perspective and apply it to whatever I can however I can,” McDonald said. “I love information, I love asking questions about what I’m doing and how to do it so I know what I’m supposed to do. I’m a student of the game, watching film constantly, working with my teammates and doing drills to get better. I’m a confident player. And I just work hard, anything I can do to get my team better or to help my team win, I’ll do it. I love pressure, I love close games.
“I’m going to have to be a student of the game. High school to college, the windows are going to be tighter, the athletes are going to be faster, there’s a lot more coverages to memorize, a lot more plays to memorize and read. I feel like being mentally prepared is going to be something to have to work on. I feel I can compete for that starting spot, anything is possible.”
The quarterback made a rare post-signing official visit to Hawaii. There he got to meet his new offensive coordinator.
“(Stutzman’s) a real nice guy, really cool,” McDonald said. “He knows his stuff. We sat down and watched some film. I’m ready to buy into it. I’ve already bought into it, I’m just ready to get on the island.”
In the classroom, McDonald plans to major in business.
Make sure you check back Friday to see which future Hawaii Rainbow Warrior is featured next!
Wednesday's feature on Viane Moala
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