Coach Spotlight: Andre McDonald
"Andre's a tremendous athlete," said DenHartog. "In my 22 years of coaching, he's the best I've seen come through. As a receiver he possesses uncanny body control. Most receivers his size have a long stride and are primarily deep threats. Andre can stretch the field, but is also good in tight spaces. With his great quickness, he makes people miss and then he's gone."
Unfortunately, McDonald's team, the Royals, were young this year and struggled to a 3-6 record and first round playoff exit. In his final game as a senior, McDonald gave his all with two touchdowns of 80 and 32 yards in the 38-35 loss to Edina in Minnesota Class AAAAA. He finished the season with 60 catches for 1,251 yards and 17 touchdowns in nine games.
"He made first team All-State as a junior and most likely will make it again this year," DenHartog said. "We tried to use him on kickoff returns but nobody would kick to him. They would just squib it. He's a just a big, fast receiver.
"I think he gets a lot of his quickness from playing basketball. He's out there covering fast little point guards on the court, but it's his quickness that has become one of his best strengths on the football field."
Hopkins is known as a basketball school with three consecutive state championships in 2009, 2010, and 2011. They feature notable alumni like Kris Humphries of NBA and Kardashian fame and 2007 Minnesota Mr. Basketball, Blake Hoffarber. Their most famous football alum has probably been Michael Lehan, a seven year NFL veteran. McDonald is hoping to change that at Vanderbilt.
"The recruiting process can be very overwhelming," said DenHartop. "You hear all of the coaches best sales pitch. We get a lot of used car salesmen around here.
"It was Vanderbilt's coaching staff that made the biggest impact on Andre's decision. Coach Franklin is very excited about what he's doing there, and that rubbed off on Andre. They also came up with an honest, realistic plan for him and didn't just tell him the things he wanted to hear."
Hopkins had originally committed to play in his hometown at Minnesota and was the first recruit landed by new head coach Jerry Kill. After a visit to the Nashville campus in September, McDonald changed his mind and decided to become a Commodore.
"One thing I think he really liked was the size of Vanderbilt," said DenHartog. "It's smaller than a lot of schools he was looking at with around 6,000 undergrads which will give him a lot better teacher-student ratio. He wants to be a successful college student and believes he'll benefit more with smaller class sizes."
Vanderbilt will gladly take the 6-foot-3, 205-pound wide receiver with sub-4.5 speed in the 40. Coach DenHartog thinks they're getting a fine individual as well.
"Andre's super personable," DenHartog said. "He gets along well with everybody. There's not one peer group he's in at school. He'll socialize and and be polite with anybody. I've enjoyed having him in the classroom. He started out slowly with his grades at first, but has come on strong the last couple of years and is doing great."
Andre McDonald had more than 100 yards receiving in seven of nine games this season. His best game came in the Irondale victory where he had 11 receptions for 201 yards and three touchdowns. He wore jersey No. 12 for the Royals.
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