Michael McDonald, a Chip off the Old Block
Michael McDonald is the son of USC's 1978 National Championship quarterback Paul McDonald. Prior to the 2003 season, the elder McDonald addressed the audience at the annual "Tribute to Troy" preseason dinner. At this engagement, McDonald brazenly told the crowd that it had been 25 years since he; a left-hander had led the Trojans to its last National Championship. He said under the leadership of another lefty, Matt Leinart, the Trojans would win another National Title. Those words were prophetic as the Trojans went on to win the AP Championship that year and the BCS Championship in 2004.
Father Michael McDonald (left) and son, Michael McDonald 2008 Rose Bowl
In 2003, Michael McDonald was a walk-on quarterback in, and earned a football scholarship in the summer of 2005. So the younger McDonald got to experience both the 2003 and 2004 championships, but not without some hesitation. He had quit the football team, twice, only to be convinced to return to the team by coaches.
McDonald had never started for USC, playing behind the likes of Matt Leinart and John David Booty. But he did find a place on this team, holding for place kickers the last two years. He also helped himself to one pass and a touchdown in 2005 and another pass (off of a fake field goal) for a touchdown in 2006. Until this season, McDonald was a perfect 2 for 2 and 2 touchdowns. Throughout the 2007 season, McDonald didn't see much action as a quarterback, although he held for every place kick during the season. He also led the last series of downs in the 2008 Rose Bowl, ending the Rose Bowl and his career as a Trojan.
A Conversation with Michael McDonald
We asked Michael McDonald to review his time with the Trojans, he responded, "This is my last year as a Trojan. I walked on as a freshman in 2003. I played 2003 (red-shirt) and 2004 as a walk-on; we went to the Orange Bowl. I decided to take a break from football, I thought I was going to be done."
As far as McDonald was concerned, the 2004 season was his last as a football player. He said, "I talked to coach (Pete Carroll), I thought it would be better if I spent more time with school. I was going to line up a good internship."
In 2005 Spring Camp, Coach Carroll asked McDonald to return to the team. McDonald remembers, "Then I got a call from Coach Carroll because they needed an extra quarterback for Spring. It was the year Matt Leinart didn't participate in Spring Camp (2005). They only had J.D. (Booty) and Mark (Sanchez) wasn't here yet and they had Rocky Hinds and he got hurt. They asked me to return and offered me a scholarship in the summer of 2005 and I've been here ever since."
Reminiscing over his bowl experiences, he said, "I've been to five bowls - four Rose Bowls (and the Orange Bowl in 2005). The Rose Bowl is great, playing in Los Angeles. Last year I got to play on the PAT team with Mario (Danelo) and the Orange Bowl was pretty cool too. For us, not for them."
Regarding being a part of the Trojan team, McDonald said, "The best part about being on this team is the camaraderie within the team. Everyone's buzzed; everyone comes to practice always looking for ways to have a good time. There's jokes going on, pranks being pulled. There's so many good times we've had together."
On being part of the winningest senior class ever, he said: "It's unreal." Plain and simple.
Finally we asked McDonald what his immediate plans are, he replied, "I'm going to take a little bit of time off. Take some time off. Look into real estate (companies). I may try out for an Arena Football Team like the Avengers. We'll see what the opportunities are."
Good luck, Michael McDonald.