"It was nice just to be surrounded by football my whole life. I have been at NFL games since I was 1, so it's in my blood. I just fell in love with the game right off the bat," McDonald said.
Since retiring from the NFL in 1999 after a stellar 13-year career playing for the Cardinals and 49ers, Tim McDonald now coaches his son at Edison High School in Fresno and is focused on cultivating T.J.'s talents.
"It definitely has brought us closer together and I know that I wouldn't be where I'm at if he wasn't my coach," explained the younger McDonald. "He has so much experience and I learned so much about the game. The mental part of the game is what I am working on and he is doing a good job with that."
"I watch all of his old tapes. I learn a lot from his old tapes. I'm in the film room whenever I get a chance. He played in six Pro Bowls, so I watch every single one and I could tell you everything about the games."
"I just knew that if USC was to offer me that was where I was going. I knew from the beginning that was where I was going. I'm 100 percent USC," McDonald said of his decision.
The dream began with T.J. sitting in the seats of the Coliseum as a young child with his family watching his favorite team run up and down the field, and has continued to grow as he matured and realized that he had the talent to one day be one of those players.
"I have always wanted to be a Trojan my whole life," McDonald said. "I grew up watching the Trojans so that has always been a dream of mine."
"My dad took us to all the games and stuff. I always remembered throughout my whole life the rivalry with UCLA. Being a USC fan UCLA was my rival, too."
While sitting in the stands at the big rivalry game against UCLA this past December, like he had done so many times as a child, McDonald felt it was the perfect setting and time to become a Trojan, and days later he let the USC coaches know of his decision.
"I was pumped up when I got there. Hearing the USC fans yelling for the players I could just feel the respect that the guys got," McDonald said of the atmosphere at the Coliseum. "I play every game with a chip on my shoulder and playing in that atmosphere would be great for me, it would be the perfect fit."
USC fans had the pleasure of watching Tim McDonald make plays for the Men of Troy in years past and now they will have the opportunity to watch his son, T.J. McDonald, create his own legacy at USC.
When asked how it will feel to run out of the tunnel onto the field at the Coliseum wearing Cardinal and Gold for the first time, Mc Donald replied, "I can't even explain it to you. I don't even know how I could explain it. All I can say is I can't wait. As long as I got that uniform on I'm going to come out to play."