As his father proudly serves in the United States Air Force as a command chief stationed at Hickham Air Force Base in Hawaii, Jon Donaldson of Vacaville (Calif.) is trying to move himself up in the Northern California ranks as a potential breakout wide receiver for the Class of 2017.
The 4.29 student Donaldson reunited with his father in Hawaii for not only a summer visit, but to check in the sights and sounds of one university that he said is increasing its interest in him: The University of Hawaii.
The 6-foot-2, 210-pound target – who is the current owner of one NAIA scholarship offer from Kentucky Christian and has taken unofficial visits to Sacramento State, UCLA and USC this past spring - has told Scout that he likes the possibility of suiting up for the Rainbow Warriors.
“With my dad being in the military and not living in California with me and my mom, it's hard,” Donaldson said. “I've had to take the role [of being the man in the house] along with my brother. There’s a lot of things I feel like I miss out on without my dad here, but I believe it has made me more of a man by having less people to rely on. My dad is one of my biggest supporters and I have so much respect for him and the sacrifices he's made for our country. Every day I have to wake up and tell myself that there’s a chance my mom will need my help or encouragement to continue being as hard working as she is. So the main thing I've had to overcome and accomplish is self-reliance because there’s only so much my mom can do.”
Last season, Donaldson only caught eight passes in eight games for the 5-5 Bulldogs, but averaged more than 23 yards a catch as he emerged as one of Vacaville’s top deep threats.
He spent his spring season latching on with the club team Silly U, who placed in the top four at the Passing Down Northern California Regional in February with Donaldson emerging as Silly U’s top red zone option.
Donaldson said that opponents lining up across from him think he’s an easy match-up, but he gets them to change their perception quick after the ball is snapped
“[Usually] 100% of my opponents underestimate me…and I’m completely OK with that because after the first snap, they tend to realize it only makes me grind harder when my opponents or anyone doubts me,” Donaldson said. “I want to play division one football more than anything and I know there will be doubters. It’s part of life.”
He takes pride in his physical strength off the ball, his speed, routes and hands. He adds that he’s always looking for ways to improve his abilities during summer practices at Vacaville.
But with his size and red zone skills, is there a chance Donaldson could move over to a tight end or H-back role?
“I've yet to have a coach ask if that is a possibility, but wherever I am needed on the field I will go,” Donaldson said. “For example: at the UNR (Nevada) camp, I excelled at the safety position and now they've became very interested in seeing what I will be doing on defense this year.”
Donaldson adds he’s trying to slim down for his senior season, saying “I have recently dropped down to 210 and I plan on being 200 by the season, which may be big for some receivers but as long as I can still run by people, I think I'll be just fine at a slot or outside position. I will play anywhere.”
He’s set the bar high for himself this fall, as he not only has aspirations of playing for a state title with his team, but also joining the small percentage of high school athletes who earn an NCAA FBS offer.
“I am very open to many schools as of right now. It is hard to have specifics without having offers. But schools like Hawaii, San Diego State, Boise State, Sacramento State, UC Davis, and UNR are on my short list as of right now,” Donaldson said. “I just want to play division one football. That is my dream. Any offer is completely under consideration. My season depends on my reliability with my coaches and my trust with my QB. As of right now I am in a great position and plan on having a great senior season.”