The Rutgers Scarlet Knights pulled out another win against fellow Big Ten member Purdue last Saturday.
The Knights won by a score of 14-12, Rutgers’ offense was held to 217 total yards; their second-lowest total of the season. On the other side of the ball, Rutgers’ defense played with a “bend, but don’t break” style against Purdue’s offense, specifically the defensive backs. They only allowed 195 yards and a touchdown in the air, but they also notched two picks against Purdue’s quarterback Elijah Sindelar.
The rushing defense, on the other hand, was disastrous, to say the least. They allowed Purdue to run the ball 41 times, racking up 279 total rushing yards. And while they could not score on the ground, it kept the defense on the field for long periods of time; wearing them out enough to take advantage of many mistakes. Around the middle of the fourth quarter, the front seven for the Scarlet Knights looked sloppy and out of shape. They did not stick to their assignments, missed tackles, and could not hurry to the ball if their life depended on it.
While this still counts as a win, it was an ugly win. Style points can count for a lot in college football, especially in the recruiting game. If Rutgers hopes to ever be taken seriously within the conference, they are going to need defensive players that can keep up with high-tempo offenses like Purdue or Ohio State.
Enter Jayden McDonald.
Looking at game tape from the past three years on his hudl.com profile, the 6’2, 201-pound linebacker has shown to be a dominant force on the field for the North Gwinnett High School Bulldogs.
McDonald has proven to be an O-line breaker. He possesses an intense stamina level, allowing him to put immense pressure on opposing quarterbacks in the pocket. McDonald’s also boasted a threat to the running game, as his combination of speed strength enables him to easily seal any outside wholes to help his team make a stop. His best efforts came during his junior year with the Bulldogs, as he racked up a total of 82 tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks, and five forced fumbles.
But it’ is not just the tangibles that have scouts raving about McDonald. In coverage, he’s shown to be as agile and quick as a safety, yet still able to deliver pass-breaking blows like a linebacker. McDonald’s play-recognition ability is a testament to his intelligence, as he has shown great understanding of being at the right place at the right time; either to make a tackle or force a turnover.
It is not just scouts that see McDonald as a dominant player. According to GwinnettPrepSports.com in September, McDonald won the Daily Post’s Fans Choice Player of the Week, after he recorded seven tackles, a sack and an interception in a 35-14 win against Norcross High School.
McDonald brings a physical dominance to the Rutgers front seven. He leads by example and could evolve to become a locker-room leader once he takes his place at HighPoint Solutions Stadium.
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