Making An Impression

As one of only four fullbacks at West Virginia's Gold Rush camp, this tough, physical Virginian saw the chance to make a big impression on the Mountaineer coaching staff.

"I think I had a very good camp, and it was by far one of the best setups I've seen," said Briar Woods High School's Billy McDonald. "I've seen a lot of schools, and this was by far the best I've seen. The weight room is perfect, and all the facilities are right there together. The whole atmosphere is just outstanding."

On the field at the one-day event, McDonald was similarly impressed.

"Everything was run with great organization," he explained. "The coaching staff is brilliant, and they produce a lot of good athletes at West Virginia. This was my first real ‘football' visit there. I was on the campus last year and saw some of it, but this was my first trip where I got to see the football side.

"I worked out with the running backs, and we did some bag drills, and did a lot of drills and one-on-ones catching the ball. There was a lot of work on route running, where we came out of the backfield, and sometimes out of the slot, to catch passes. I have done a lot of these drills before, so I think the outcome for me was good. I think I did well."

McDonald first caught the collective eye of the Mountaineer coaching staff as a sophomore, when he sent game film in for evaluation. It only took a couple of weeks for him to receive reciprocal interest from West Virginia, which will take at least one fullback/tight end in this year's class. In McDonald, the potential for a crunching lead blocker and power runner is evident – one reminiscent of a recent WVU star.

"I watched Owen Schmitt play at West Virginia, and I know they have always run the ball well," he said of his interest in the Mountaineers. "I am a north-south kind of runner, and I love to block. The whole scheme of blocking was not hard for me to pick up. I do want to work more on my moves and footwork, but I am a power runner. I can carry tacklers and get extra yardage. I'm a team-oriented guy too – I always want to participate with the team."

McDonald's skill set is perfectly fitted for a lead blocker, but he is certainly not a single-dimensional player. Ashburn plans to use him as much as a ball carrier as it does as a lead blocker this year, and he is looking forward to that role. Still, his main goals are ones for the team and his teammates.

"My coaches told me I would have an increased role carrying the ball this year, maybe 15-20 times per game, but my goal is to work on my blocking this year and improve that. I want to get my running back 1,000 yards this year. Our offensive line will be young, so I need to be a leader there and be a great blocker for him."

Although most schools are looking at McDonald as an offensive player, he will also play a defensive role for Ashburn this year.

"I have played a lot of defensive positions, but I like playing on the line," the stocky McDonald noted. "I have really good explosion off the ball. I have played both up and down [stance], and I have done well there, but I think my future is on offense."

In addition to West Virginia, Boston College, North Carolina, Louisville, Duke, James Madison and Delaware have all shown strong interest in McDonald. He receives numerous mailings and contacts from those schools, among others, and believes that offers will come as his camp season and senior year progress.

"Our school didn't get out until June 19, so I am just getting started on camps," he said. "I'll be going to camps at Louisville, Rutgers and James Madison, and touring more campuses over the summer."

Although he is quick to note that he will consider and listen to any school that makes an offer, he also has favorites that would top his list.

"West Virginia is my dream school to play at," the voluble back said. "Watching Owen Schmitt, and with their running game, I would love to get an offer there. Louisville and Duke are other schools that would be up high if they offered. I have been talking with a lot of recruiting coordinators, and I have had some very good contacts with them. I think the offers will come."

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