Kayden McDonald Says He Committed to Ohio State Because of the Academics, Culture, Chance to Win a National Championship

By Garrick Hodge on November 11, 2022 at 11:35 am
Kayden McDonald

Although he had been doing months of due diligence, Kayden McDonald didn’t decide where he was going to play college football until 24 hours before his decision date.

Choosing between a final five of Ohio State, Oklahoma, Michigan, Florida and Clemson, McDonald – a four-star from Suwanee, Georgia – kept coming back to his experiences in Columbus.

The Buckeye coaching staff had been doing a full-court press on the 6-foot-3, 310-pound defensive tackle for months, texting him daily to let him know he was a priority. He was also sold on Ohio State's academics, as McDonald wants to be a sports broadcaster one day and follow in the footsteps of the likes of Kirk Herbstreit. 

On Oct. 30, one day before his decision, McDonald called the Ohio State coaching staff, who were in meetings one day after a win against Penn State. When the Georgia prospect told them he’d be the 21st OSU commit of the 2023 class the next day, McDonald heard the room light up over the phone. 

“They clapped and cheered,” McDonald told Eleven Warriors. “It was a blessing to hear the coaches clapping and stuff.”

Since fall began, Ohio State has pitched to McDonald that Columbus would be his future home. At the end of October, the highly-touted defensive tackle prospect agreed. 

“Why not OSU?” McDonald said regarding why he committed to the Buckeyes. “I picked OSU because of the academics, culture, opportunity to play and compete with the best, my relationship with coach Johnson and coach Day, plus the city of Columbus and the chance to win a national championship.”

But it wasn’t just the coaches that put on a full-scale recruiting effort for the North Gwinnett (Suwanee, Georgia) standout. Ohio State sophomore cornerback and McDonald’s former high school teammate, Jordan Hancock, was also actively convincing McDonald to play for the Buckeyes.  

“Jordan has been recruiting since they offered me,” McDonald said. “He played a major role. I can’t wait to ball with my bro. We were neighbors, so it’s crazy to be teammates again.”

Once he heard McDonald would join him in Columbus, Hancock was thrilled the pair would be reunited on the field. 

“Kayden’s a dog,” Hancock said. “I grew up with Kayden, and we’re kind of neighbors. We live in the same neighborhood. He's gonna be a dog, be a team player. He’d do anything for our team to win. So, I'm happy for him to be a Buckeye with me and just have another friend from Georgia. You know, we want to get a pipeline from Georgia going. So I feel like that's coming in.

“I was really (recruiting) him hard, recruiting him because that's my boy. So, I really loved him for coming here. And I’ll look out for him when he's here. I’m so thankful for that.”

McDonald is all too eager to join Ohio State as a summer enrollee next year, but in the meantime, he hopes to finish his senior year off with a state championship. In nine games this season, McDonald has racked up 52 total tackles (31 for loss), with 10 sacks and 11 quarterback hurries. He’s also recorded a pass deflection and recovered two fumbles. 

His junior season was even more impressive, as he racked up 95 tackles (58 for loss) in 12 games with a whopping 19 sacks and 15 quarterback hurries while also adding three pass deflections.

McDonald shined for North Gwinnett in his team’s 7A Regional Championship 35-27 victory over Norcross last week. The future OSU defensive tackle had six tackles (4 for loss), two sacks and two quarterback hurries. Fellow commit Luke Montgomery was already in Georgia as a guest of his brother Ryan for the lauded Tennessee vs. Georgia matchup the next day, so Luke and his father, Mike, spent their Friday night supporting McDonald and coming to his game. 

“It meant a lot,” McDonald said of the support from the Montgomerys. “I appreciate Luke and his dad coming to support. I talked to Luke the whole week before my decision. He’s bro, for real.” 

With the Montgomerys on hand, McDonald was also a factor offensively, as he ran for 61 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown. On the season, he’s carried the ball 46 times for 237 yards and seven touchdowns as primarily a goal-line running back. 

Could Day and OSU implement a package in the future that could utilize McDonald’s talents on offense?  

“After my first touchdown, coach Day called and jokingly said he calls the plays, and if I come to Ohio State, he’ll let me tote the rock on a goal line package,” McDonald said. 

With his decision behind him, McDonald is excited to start his career with Ohio State and compete for playing time in his freshman season. 

“It’s a blessing to be a part of Buckeye nation,” McDonald said. “It’s the best fan base in college football.”

View 30 Comments