CuseNation.com has been monitoring the offensive coordinator opening at Syracuse since the position became vacant. At the top of our board for some time was George McDonald due to his connections with new head coach Scott Shafer in the past.
Today, Syracuse officially announced that McDonald would be the new leader of the offense. From Syracuse athletics:
George McDonald boasts an impressive coaching resume that includes multiple student-athletes who have gone to the National Football League and a reputation as one of the most prolific recruiters in the country. Orange head coach Scott Shafer has hired McDonald as Syracuse's offensive coordinator, which reunites the pair who coached together at Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. McDonald joins the Orange from the University of Arkansas, where he was the receivers coach since December 2012 after serving as the wide receivers coach at the University of Miami in 2011 and 2012.
At Miami, McDonald mentored the wide receivers and had additional duties as the passing game coordinator in 2012. Prior to his time in Coral Gables, he was the wide receivers coach for the Cleveland Browns for two seasons. He has groomed 10 wide receivers who played in the NFL and also worked with Braylon Edwards, Josh Cribbs and Mohamed Massaquoi while in Cleveland.
"When I worked with the Browns in Cleveland I spoke often with Jim Brown. He always told me what a special place this is. I am excited to be here to continue the tradition of Syracuse Football and to continue to build what Coach Marrone, Coach Shafer and Coach Hackett have started," McDonald said. "Our offense will be physical, fundamentally sound, and aggressive. We will strive to be balanced by getting the ball to the best playmakers, make the defense defend the whole field and play with a great tempo."
In 2012, the Hurricanes ranked 28th in the NCAA in passing offense and ranked in the top five in the ACC in total offense, scoring offense and pass efficiency. Sophomore wide receiver Phillip Dorsett ranked ninth in the ACC in receiving yards per game and 10th in the conference in receptions per game.
"George McDonald is a perfect fit to take over the play-calling duties for the Syracuse offense," Shafer said. "George and (former Syracuse offensive coordinator) Nathaniel Hackett are great friends who have worked together in the past. George has a clear understanding of the West Coast concepts combined with the Spread college attack. In addition to his vast football knowledge, George is one of best recruiters in all of college football."
McDonald's recruiting abilities are recognized throughout the sport. He was tabbed as one of the top 25 recruiters in the country by Rivals.com in 2012. The 2012 Miami class was ranked No. 8 in the country by ESPN.com and No. 9 in the nation by Scout.com, 247Sports.com and Rivals, with Scout also ranking the class No. 1 in the ACC and the other three services ranking the Hurricanes' class as the second-best in the conference. In the two classes he helped put together at Miami, the Hurricanes signed 15 four-star players and two five-stars. The class he helped assemble at Minnesota in 2008 was ranked 17th in the nation and third in the Big Ten by Rivals and included seven four-star athletes.
In his first season at Miami, McDonald led junior Tommy Streeter to a breakout season, as Streeter finished the year with 46 receptions for 811 yards. His yards-per-catch average of 17.6 was the highest among ACC receivers with at least 40 catches, and his yardage total ranked fifth in the ACC. McDonald also oversaw senior Travis Benjamin's climb up the Miami record book as he finished his career sixth on the school's all-time receiving yards list with 2,146 and on the reception list with 131.
McDonald's NFL experience began as an offensive quality control coach for the Browns in February of 2009. He was quickly promoted to wide receivers coach that May. In his first season in Cleveland, rookie receiver Massaquoi was the team's leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. The next season, Massaquoi and Cribbs each averaged more than 12 yards per reception and combined for 59 catches for 775 yards.
McDonald has also gained valuable NFL experience from training camp internships with the New York Jets (2004, 2006), Chicago (2005) and Tampa Bay (2007).
Prior to his time in Cleveland, McDonald spent two seasons at the University of Minnesota where he coached Eric Decker, who set school single-season receptions record in 2007 (67 catches) and 2008 (84), and Ernie Wheelwright, who ranks in the top five receivers in school history. Decker, a 2008 All-Big Ten receiver, gained 1,074 receiving yards that season. He finished his career as the Gophers' career record holder for catches and receiving yards.
Shafer and McDonald served as the coordinators at Western Michigan in 2005 and 2006. In 2005, McDonald mentored current Green Bay Packers star receiver Greg Jennings, who earned the 2005 MAC Offensive Player of the Year, the conference's co-MVP and was a Biletnikoff Award semifinalist.
In 2004, McDonald was the tight ends coach at Stanford, where he worked with Alex Smith, who was picked in the third round of the 2005 NFL Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and currently plays for the Cleveland Browns. The second-team All-American and first-team All-Pac 10 selection was a finalist for the Mackey Award after recording 52 receptions for 706 yards and three touchdowns.
The first time Shafer and McDonald worked together was at Northern Illinois, where McDonald was wide receivers from 2001-03 and Shafer was the defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach from 1996-2003. In his first season, McDonald oversaw the development of Darrell Hill, a second-team All-MAC performer and draft pick by the Tennessee Titans, and Sam Hurd and Dan Sheldon, who both set NIU receiving records. While at NIU, McDonald also coached P.J. Fleck, who ranked third in school history in career receptions (179) and fourth in receiving yards (2,162). Fleck, who was recently named the head coach at Western Michigan, owns the Northern Illinois record for punt returns (87) and ranks second in punt return yards (716) in a career.
The Buena Park, Calif. native began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Ball State University in 2000 after lettering four seasons as a receiver at Illinois (1995-98), where he finished with 59 career receptions and 589 yards. As a kickoff returner, McDonald produced 1,276 yards on 57 returns in four games. A two-sport athlete, McDonald also ran track as a freshman and senior, earning All-Big Ten honors during his senior campaign with a school-record 6.74 mark in the 60 meters to claim the conference title. He graduated from Illinois in 1999 with a degree in health planning and administration.