Wednesday, October 24, 2012

the recruit: Jack McDonald

Name: Jack McDonald
Position: OG
Hometown: Dorchester, MA
School: Boston College High
Height: 6'5"
Weight: 275

24/7: 85, three stars; #35 OG, MA #5
ESPN: 76, three stars; #60 OG, MA #4, Atl. #122
Rivals: 5.6, three stars; #40 OG, MA #4
Scout: three stars; #48 OT

Other offers: North Carolina, Boston College, Miami, Maryland, UConn, Duke, UMass

Donta Wilkins and Kirk Garner committed at the beginning of one of the better weekends (we are defining "weekend" fairly loosely here) in UVA recruiting history; on the other end of it, Mike London nailed down the offensive line portion of it.  Jack McDonald actually spent that weekend in Chapel Hill, and loved it so much he committed to UVA on Monday.

McDonald is one part of a troika of Massachusetts prospects that UVA pursued heavily.  One, Maurice Hurst, is one of the closer near-misses we've had in a while, and is one of the reasons I never wanted to see UVA in the Big Ten: Michigan crushes us head-to-head.  If you believe in miracles, there's a chance Hurst could still flip to UVA, but Michigan is 5-2 and UVA is 2-6 so don't get too excited.  The other is Tevin Montgomery, still deciding between UVA, Vanderbilt, and BC.  If McDonald had his way all three would head to UVA; they go to different schools but are very tight.  They're also 2-3-4 in the state of Massachusetts according to recruiting consensus, usually ordered Hurst, Montgomery, McDonald.

The fact that McDonald is actually the lowest-rated lineman in the class is a testament to the quality we've got, since literally half the ACC wanted him.  Looking at his highlight tape (something I frequently do for these but rarely use, since the tapes are designed to make everyone look like all-world players) I see a guy who doesn't have an overpowering initial push out of his stance but locks on strong and slowly grinds his assignment into the dust.  McDonald plays right tackle for his high school team (at least, he did as a junior) which is a small, tiny strike against his pass-blocking since the best O-line prospects typically play left tackle the way the best baseball prospects play shortstop.  Whether he's moved to left tackle in his senior year, I couldn't tell you.

In college he's a guy who could play either tackle or guard, but with a lean toward guard as we're probably going to be deep enough at tackle.  He's got the height for tackle at 6'5", but he's closer to 6'4" than 6'6" so he's really just barely in range.  At 275 pounds he's got some major growing to do, which makes him a rock-solid lock for a redshirt year.  Another point in favor of guard: he gets up the field very well, with a basketball background that gives him some running ability.  A guard often needs to be able to get a quick hat on a lineman, then release to a linebacker, or else, of course, pull to the other side and club whoever is in the hole where the running back is supposed to go.  McDonald looks well-equipped to handle that.

As mentioned, the redshirt year is a guarantee.  UVA is currently using a combination of Sean Cascarano, Conner Davis, and Cody Wallace at guard.  It hasn't been an especially inspiring group, but it's going through a painful growth process and is hopefully gelling as it goes.  All three will still be around next year, and then Cascarano graduates as McDonald enters his redshirt freshman year in 2014.  As it stands now Ryan Doull is the next up on the conveyor belt, and McDonald, assuming he does end up at guard, will fall in line behind him.  I do expect extra competition coming from behind; guard is not a deep group and the coaches will be looking to make it deeper, and one example there is 2014 O-line prospect Steven Moss, who is very much a future college guard.  Assuming he develops as he should, though, there's little reason McDonald shouldn't be a regular in the rotation - if not a starter - by his third year in the program.

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