Stratford football coach Ray Stackley could foresee this for former Knights standout Tyler McDonald back in high school.
“We knew he was going to be a great receiver,” Stackley said of his former quarterback.
McDonald (6-3, 190) is about to set a career record for receptions at South Carolina State. The senior’s next grab will give him 136 for his career, one better than Oliver Young, the player he’s currently tied with in the record books. McDonald is a four-year starter for the Bulldogs.
“Things are just coming together,” said McDonald, who got square with Young after a 10-catch performance on Oct. 10 in a 44-3 win at North Carolina Central. “The hard work is finally showing up and I’ve been taking advantage of my opportunities.
“I’ve got to keep working and keep producing.”
The tying grab was a 9-yard scoring strike from quarterback Richard Cue in the third quarter. McDonald finished with 74 yards receiving against North Carolina Central.
So far this season, the former Stratford quarterback has hauled in 27 passes for 606 yards and five touchdowns for the surging Bulldogs. South Carolina State has won five straight games since losing to Clemson, 52-13, on Sept. 7.
The streak has McDonald and the Bulldogs within one win of bettering last year’s 5-6 mark. McDonald’s success has been an integral part of the State charge.
His first shot at the record will come on Oct. 26 at Bethune-Cookman in Daytona, Fla. He also has a chance at the Bulldogs’ career marks in receiving touchdowns and yardage.
He needs 130 yards to eclipse Young’s record for receiving yards (2,156) in a career.
“It really hasn’t even set in yet what is going on,” he said. “I might be able to say more about it when it actually happens.
“Right now, I’m just trying to do whatever it takes to help us win football games.”
With the bulk of Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference play ahead and records in sight, McDonald has put aside thinking too much about the National Football League, though it seems to be a legitimate possibility.
“The word to me is to keep on doing what I’m doing and to continue working on my craft and not get complacent,” he said.
Stackley had to play McDonald at quarterback during some lean years for the Knights because he was so athletic, but the coach always knew McDonald had the skill set and hands to advance in the game as a receiver.
McDonald caught 33 balls as a freshman, 41 as a sophomore and 34 as a junior. This season is shaping up to be his most impressive.
He’s performed against teams at all levels. Against Clemson this season, McDonald scored both of the Bulldogs’ touchdowns on receptions of 63 and 51 yards. As a sophomore, he made seven grabs for 159 yards and a TD against Indiana.
“He’s got next-level ability,” Stackley said. “If they let him get in camp and get on the field, he’s got a chance to make somebody’s club next year. That would be a tremendous credit to his work ethic. He’s a great kid from a great family.”