Archive for Thursday, August 9, 2012

Following Weis to Kansas an easy call for ex-Irish linebacker

August 9, 2012

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Although text messages and social media have changed recruiting, the story of how linebacker Anthony McDonald landed at Kansas University pays homage to Ma Bell.

“There really wasn’t a recruiting pitch,” McDonald said. “When I saw (KU) coach (Charlie) Weis calling me, (I thought) ‘You want me, coach, I’m all yours. One more year.’”

Before taking the phone call from his former coach, the 6-foot-2, 235-pound Notre Dame middle linebacker said he had no immediate football plans lined up for 2012. In fact, he had not even reached out to any other schools about playing out his final season of eligibility after graduating.

“I kind of knew in the back of my mind if coach Weis wanted me I was gonna go here,” McDonald said. “That (phone call) sealed the deal.”

Of course, it did not hurt that spending the next year at Kansas would mean a reunion with former Sherman Oaks, Calif., high school and Notre Dame teammate Dayne Crist, a guy McDonald called the best quarterback he’d ever seen and the kind of friend to whom he likes to give a hard time.

“Dayne gets mad when I say this, but Notre Dame offered me first,” McDonald said. “I’m just happy that we started our career together and we can end it together. It’s been a fun ride.”

Throughout the offseason, McDonald kept in close touch with his old friend and, little by little, began to learn about KU.

“He didn’t really recruit me,” McDonald said of Crist. “He just told me how great of a town this is. He told me how great the facilities are here, and I was like, ‘Really?’ And he said, ‘Dude, they’re better than Notre Dame.’ I didn’t believe him, but I came here and saw everything with my own two eyes.”

McDonald officially committed to KU after graduating from Notre Dame in May and reported to campus at the beginning of June. Since then, it’s been nothing but good vibrations for the California kid and the Jayhawks.

“We counted on him giving us a physical presence and leadership, and then anything he could contribute to us on the field we’re really, really happy about,” KU linebackers coach DeMontie Cross said. “So far, he’s come in and done exactly what we’ve asked him to do.”

Listed as a starter at middle linebacker on KU’s most recent depth chart, McDonald brings much needed grit and game experience to a fairly young unit.

“We knew he was a tackle-to-tackle type of a linebacker, we knew he’d be a pretty good hitter and that’s what we’re seeing,” defensive coordinator Dave Campo said.

According to McDonald, there are many differences between KU and Notre Dame, but he said they are not as much about football as one might think.

“(Lawrence is) a lot more of a college town,” McDonald said. “That’s the biggest difference. Everyone’s more welcoming, there’s a lot more pride behind the hometown team here. I like it a lot.”

Nine months ago, when McDonald thought about his future, he envisioned beginning his journey to join the CIA or FBI, lifelong goals that, for now, have been put on hold for one more season of smashmouth football.

“Coach Weis knows what I’m capable of, and I think it’s time to showcase that,” McDonald said. “I just really appreciate the opportunity coach Weis has given me, and I’m really gonna take advantage of that and run with it.”

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