UH quarterback McDonald lives by creed of family, faith, friendship

The trouble with defining Hawaii quarterback Cole McDonald is the things he does not do.

His version of a house party is inviting over teammates to play “Fortnite.” “That’s a fun night for me, rather than wasting money on paying to get into clubs, ” McDonald said.


Pickup lineIf friends need help moving, he has a truck available to pick up the furniture. “If I’m busy, I’ll let them know, and we can try a different time, ” McDonald said. “I’m always there to help.”

For McDonald, an open house is every day ending in “Y.”

“If (teammates ) need a place, they can always crash at my place, ” McDonald said.

Beneath the blond dreadlocks and the tattoo of the Hawaiian islands, there is a California-reared guy who is laid back except when it comes to football, school or his Christian faith. Even when elementary school classmates sang “e-i-e-i-o ” because of his name’s phonetic resemblance to the nursery rhyme, he would chuckle along.

“If you laugh at yourself, and the jokes other people make, it becomes normal and funny, ” McDonald said.

Then and now, McDonald embraced the family code of having a good heart and good humor. It was his parents and grandparents who implored him to honor the family name.

“A lot of people don’t realize that your name represents your whole family, ” McDonald said. “My parents always talk about ‘Everything you do, you represent us and who we are as people and as a family.’ I remember that. How do I want people to remember me byWhen people look at me, they look at my parents, my grandparents, my little brother. They see what type of person I am, what type of family we are.”

When McDonald suffered a knee injury and then internal bleeding that made it difficult to throw without wincing, he bit his mouthpiece and kept playing. It is how John McDonald, his grandfather, would have played.

“My grandpa is a tough Irish dude, ” McDonald said. “He simmered down quite a bit. He was one of those old-school guys that if you’re talking bad, he would settle it with his fists. But he’s a respected man. He has the best respect for everybody and care for people on a person level.”

From his mother, Rona, he learned patience and teamwork. He waited two years behind Dru Brown before earning the starting job, and when he was injured or struggling last year, he cheered for freshman Chevan Cordeiro.

“I’m always excited for young cats, especially a young freshman to come in and do what he did (last year ), ” McDonald said. “That’s amazing. He’s going to get his chance, and he’s going to do big things.”


In 2018, McDonald threw for 3, 875 yards (eighth-most among NCAA passers ) and 36 touchdowns (sixth ) while completing 38 percent of his deep throws, including 35 completions of 25-plus yards. To improve his accuracy into tight windows, he tightened his motion after consulting with quarterback coaches and adhering to his father’s mantra of practice, practice, practice. The elder McDonald used to pitch batting practice in the backyard or play catch in the street.

“He was never like a parent who forced us to do anything, ” McDonald said. “But if we wanted to do something, he’d take us out and say, ‘All right, let’s do it, and I’m going to make you work for it.’ He’s always been there for us. He’s been an awesome role model and a great dad.”

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