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McDonald arrives for second chance

February 6, 2014

A former Division I athlete has made UW-River Falls his new home this semester, with hopes of a second chance. He plans on joining the football team as well as the basketball team next fall semester.

That player is former University of Minnesota Golden Gopher Andre McDonald. McDonald played eight games his freshman season but was suspended due to drug-related issues shortly before the bowl game in 2012. He left that spring to seek rehab and was set to return in the 2013 season before getting suspended once again for drugs, but this time for the whole season.

“I ran into some trouble and off the field issues and I just kind of let it consume me,” McDonald said.

With UWRF being a smaller campus and the football team making strides to create a positive impact on and off the field, McDonald feels that UWRF would be a great place to get a fresh start.

However, there has been a small bump in the road for McDonald. This past weekend he was issued a citation for underage consumption of alcohol.

On Sunday, Feb. 2 at 1:42 a.m. campus police received a call about an intoxicated male with an ACL injury in the Johnson Hall lobby who was later identified as Mc- Donald, according to an incident report from the UWRF police.

UWRF Athletics officials had yet to determine how the underage citation will affect McDonald’s eligibility to play football.

McDonald was one of the nation’s top recruited receivers coming out of Hopkins High School in 2012. He was a four star recruit and was sought after by Ohio State, UCLA, Michigan State, Vanderbilt and Minnesota, according to ESPN.com’s national college football recruiting page from 2012.

McDonald has known Falcon linebacker Cory Clark for years and said that Clark was a big reason he decided to come to UWRF and attempt a fresh start this semester.

“Cory is like an older brother to me. He texted me asking me what my plans were and I told him I wanted to go back to school and play again,” McDonald said. “He told me if I came here he would be here for support and that Coach Walker and the teammates were great.”

Head football Coach Matt Walker said in an email interview that when he first sat down and started talking to McDonald that they talked about more than just football. They talked about life, education and how UWRF could fit into that equation. Mc- Donald is going to UWRF for elementary education and said he hopes to make a difference in children’s lives someday.

“Andre clearly has had some issues in his past. We have talked at length about this and his future. He has been up front and owns his mistakes. He knows this is a second chance and he knows that he is going to have to continue to work very hard to stay on the right path,” Walker said.

McDonald has said he does plan on playing basketball at UWRF as well, but has not met with head coach Jeff Berkhof about those plans.

While the underage is a setback for McDonald’s plans, he says he is excited about the support system he has forming in UWRF.

“I really feel at home already and I have only been here a week. My teammates are helping me and I feel like I have known some of them forever already,” McDonald said.

McDonald said he does plan to play basketball at UWRF as well but that he has not met with head coach Jeff Berkhof about that yet.

While the underage is a setback for McDonald’s plans he said is excited about the support system he has forming at UWRF.

“I really feel at home already and I have only been here a week. My teammates are helping me and I feel like I have known some of them forever already,” said McDonald.