Football Sports

Senior safety is leader in every aspect of the word

Senior safety Adrian McDonald is a statistical leader for UH, but he goes beyond that for the best of his team and community. | Justin Tijerina/The Cougar

Senior safety Adrian McDonald has made UH history.

After beating the previous school record of 16 career interceptions, McDonald now has the opportunity to win the Jim Thorpe Award as the nation’s top defensive back.

But that isn’t what he’s eying.

McDonald’s only concern is winning games, elevating status as a team and being wherever the ball is.

The Cougar: What does it mean to you to be in your school’s record books?

Adrian McDonald: It’s great because it’s an accomplishment, so it shows that I’ve been coming out and working hard. Celebrating with my teammates is the best part.

TC: How have you grown as an individual and as an athlete at UH?

AM: Time flew by fast. I came in as a freshman and made a pretty solid impact, but I’ve tried to clean some things up. As an athlete, making more plays is a big part of my game now, and I’ve also been put in a leadership role. I have a lot of guys that look up to me, so I have to do the right thing.

TC: Would you consider yourself a vocal leader?

AM: It depends on the setting. I do set goals and I’m a constant motivator of the team. It’s Sunday, and you’re tired from Saturday’s game and it’s raining outside? I still have to motivate the team. But I’m still more of a lead-by-example kind of guy.

TC: What do you believe sticks out about you for the team to have appointed you as captain?

AM: I just try to do the right thing, even something as simple as picking up trash on the floor if I see it. On the field, they see me running hard to the ball and it hypes them. If someone leaves a mess behind or is slacking in some way, I’ll confront them and tell them about the lifestyle and how you can’t be sloppy. I try to sharpen things up and get everyone on board.

TC: Being that it’s your last year, is there anything more that you feel you need to accomplish?

AM: (We) have never won a conference championship. We’ve won a bowl game, but that’s in the past. Going undefeated, that’d be very exciting. I want the JackBoyz legacy to remain. We’re first in the nation in turnover margin right now. I want us to have something in the record books.

TC: Is there any matchup that you’re most looking getting after?

AM: Teams that put the ball up in the air a lot, because that’s a lot of opportunities for me and my JackBoyz. I feel like we can make something happen.

TC: Is it understood among the defense that the secondary is relied on to make plays and secure points?

AM: Playing in the back end, that’s the last level of the defense. If anything gets behind us, that’s points scored. It’s up to us to not let that happen, unless it’s us scoring.

TC: You’ve been named a finalist for this year’s Jim Thorpe Award. Have you been keeping an eye out on that?

AM: It’s just a blessing. Any accomplishment is great, but it’s not what I’m going for. If I do make it to the final list, that’s an honor and I’ll take it. But I’m really concentrated on winning ball games and finishing up a good season.

[email protected]


  • I inherited a #16 commemorative jersey from a colleague who didn’t want it. Ever since, I’ve been watching Mr. McDonald as if I knew him off the field. (People often ask me when I’m wearing the jersey if my son is #16 — I’m not sure I could be prouder if he were!)

    I have to thank him for teaching me so much about football. Watching him play and develop as a player has been what makes Coog Football great for me. He’s clearly got a lot of drive and I wish nothing but the best for him as he finishes this season strong. Every time he makes an interception (even if I’m watching on TV) I yell and jump up and down. I can’t wait to see what he brings to Memphis this week and Navy in two weeks.

    I’m glad to see pieces like this and in the Houston Chronicle that show him to be as great a kid off the field as he is on.

    Thank you!

    Martha Dunkelberger

Leave a Comment