As McDonald began his career at the University of Houston he found himself on the other side of the ball, becoming a member of the “Third Ward D”. Being able to play on offense helped McDonald to become the versatile defensive asset that he is now.
“Just touching the ball every play, you get to do a lot of things, even if it’s designed or not designed you can just make something out of nothing,” McDonald said. “Getting the ball on defense and going the other way with it, that’s big.”
In 2013, McDonald was starting at the strong safety position in all 13 games. By his second season at UH, McDonald had adjusted to the fast-paced life of the city of Houston, and to his defensive positions as well with the help of his teammates.
“I knew my time was ending at quarterback. I was an athlete all my life, just do everything, just any way that it could help me further my future success I was with it,” McDonald said. “So playing defense, I just stuck with it and learned from the older guys, Zach McMillian and D.J. (Hayden), and they helped out a lot.”
For the 2014 season, McDonald has found himself at the defensive back position. McDonald says out of all the positions he has played throughout his football career he prefers the safety position.
“I just like playing the middle of the field, just reading the quarterback and whenever he throws the ball up I just try to go get it,” McDonald said.
McDonald accomplished his first career defensive touchdown against Tulane this season, recovering the fumble in the Houston end zone. Following the Tulane matchup, McDonald was tied for first in the American Athletic Conference for fumble recoveries. The Houston defense is nationally known for creating turnovers, which is largely due to the emphasis the Houston coaching staff puts on executing these plays on the field.
“It’s just hustling to the ball,” McDonald said. “We’ve got ‘turnover Tuesday’, we emphasize that, getting the ball out, getting the turnovers, but really what it comes down to is everybody running to the football and getting that bounce, so once the ball does hit the ground we have options … ”
As McDonald and the Cougars prepare to take on Tulsa, their final opponent at TDECU Stadium this season, they are striving to end on a positive note in front of their home crowd.
“It’s big for the seniors, since it is senior night, the last home game, so that will be big for them,” McDonald said. “We never really wanted to lose in the stadium … ”
As far as future goals are concerned for McDonald, his main focus is to continue to create more turnovers as Houston wraps up the 2014 season, and as he heads into his senior year in 2015.
McDonald undoubtedly has a bright future, whether it be continuing to play after college, or using his experience on the field to become a coach himself. However, McDonald does not concern himself with thoughts about a possible professional football career, but is focusing on the task at hand.
“I haven’t even really thought about that,” McDonald said. “Just Third Ward D right now, that’s it.”