The 6-foot-5 and 310-pounder, an All-Essex County selection as a high school senior has seen his story repeat as a Scarlet Knight. While his West Side (Newark, NJ) squad showed significant improvement during the tail at end of his carreer there, McDonald had to endure the lean years in high school much as he did at Rutgers.
And just like he did for the Roughriders he'll go out a winner as a Scarlet Knight.
"It's funny because when I went to West Side we broke the 70 game winless streak. I was part of that team. I played on that team. It's just the transition from going from there to here to now being at the point where we're 7-4 and going to a Bowl," continued a glowing McDonald, unable to hold back a bright smile.
The sentiments the seniors feel are unique. Primarily because they were the first to accomplish what was deeemed impossible.
"A couple of years ago we could only dream about that [Bowl Game]. I've been around here for the 1-11 team to now so it makes it that much more special, especially winning in our last time playing at Rutgers Stadium. That's a great feeling for me. You can't even tag words on it," stated Sr. WR Tres Moses.
"From now on when we look back at Rutgers and see what they accomplish in the future we can be the ones to say we started that, so guys like myself, Ryan, "Ish", we were all part of Coach Schiano's first class. We kind of helped put this thing together. Whatever they win from here on out, that's also our win," continued the all-time Rutgers wideout.
Smiles all around the players couldn't hide their enthusiasm. Trained to focus on the matter at hand it was -- finally -- okay to think about what lies ahead. And it was also time to think back and recall just how far they've come.
"When he [Coach Schiano] was at Miami, he was recruiting me to come to Miami and then when he took the head job here. He wanted me to come down here so for him to think highly of me like that, that was one of the big things that got me here," continued Moses.
"And another thing was that he told me we were going to win. We were going to go to bowl games around here. He didn't say it was going to happen in the first year but he said one day it is definitely going to happen while were still here."
"I'm just glad it's finally come true."
Senior LB Will Gilkison was as happy as anyone. With an eye on the situation at hand one had the feeling that Gilkison was ready to dart back on to the practice field - right there and then.
"It's the first step for this program. It means to me more than anything right now. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I think this is more special to be a part of the program that you helped build up from, really ground zero up," stated Gilkison.
"We were the doormat of the Big East and to build and take this first step to where we are are now. We still have 1 more game left and we still have a lot of time to improve and get better," continued the former Red Bank Regional standout.
"I think this thing is just going to keep building and building. But we're still missing that trophy in the trophy case and it's something that we'd like to add before we leave. We know we still have work to do and we have to get better before we go out there and play in this bowl game."
There were several rousing moments during Rutgers' victory over the Bearcats this past Saturday. Certainly, one that drew the applause of many Scarlet Knight fans was Ish Medley's first carreer cary as a Rutgers player.
The All-State Star Ledger selection as a senior by way of Elizabeth high school, was one of the unsung heroes in the Rutgers locker room for five years and has been itching for that first D-1 carry.
"I was hoping you know, I was kind of feeling it out. I thought they were going to give me the ball for at least 1 dive and they did," stated Medley.
Doing what he was so prolific at during his high school carreer was nice, but Medley's focus was entirely on what was to come.
"We're not going to get the true effect of this until its all over. This is the first time through this experience for us, we've never been there before."
"I was here for the the 1 and whatever or 2 and whatever just playing games because the other team was on our schedule and we just had to suit up and play. We had to just build for next year and finally this year we're no longer playing games getting ready for next year. As a senior, it's a great feeling knowing you're going to a bowl game."
For 19 seniors that feeling will last a lifetime. They are part of the first Rutgers football team to travel out of New Jersey for a Bowl game. They will experience what none before them have.
"It's a crazy feeling. I'm just happy, just so happy," concluded an overjoyed Tres Moses.
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