Gophers add Auburn transfer DB Craig McDonald

–> Auburn transfer DB Craig McDonald committed to the Gophers Saturday, becoming the Gophers’ ninth official off-season addition from the transfer portal.

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The Gophers’ hot streak in the portal continued Saturday night when Auburn defensive back Craig McDonald opted to return home and commit to Minnesota. He played 13 games and made three starts for Iowa State before transferring to the Plains. Now at his third school, the former Minnehaha Academy standout will be another versatile defensive back for the Maroon & Gold.

Who is Craig McDonald?:

McDonald grew up in the Minneapolis area and starred as a multi-sport athlete at Minnehaha Academy. 247sports ranked him as the No. 862 player in the class of 2020 and he held top offers from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Iowa before settling on Iowa State. Through two seasons with the Cyclones, he appeared in 13 games, earning three starts as a redshirt freshman. He totaled 42 tackles, 1.5 TFLs and 2 interceptions before arriving at Auburn. Last season he saw the field in only two games before opting to enter the transfer portal last month. Now after being recruited by the Gophers out of high school, McDonald will be returning to the Twin Cities once again.

  • Scouting Report:

Listed at 6-foot-2, 204 pounds Craig McDonald will give DC Joe Rossi and the Gophers another versatile defensive back. He has played safety throughout much of his college career, but in the Rossi system, he has the potential to line up at slot cornerback as well. He is an impressive tackler in the secondary with plus athleticism in coverage. With at least two seasons of eligibility left, he has a tremendous chance to be a major contributor.

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Instant Reaction:

Outside of the skill position players (Crooms, Spencer and Tyler), this could be the Gophers’ most impressive addition from the transfer portal. Craig McDonald was a top recruit coming out of high school and he showed that he is a power five defensive back in his redshirt freshman season at Iowa State. With a coaching change at Auburn, the transfer made sense and he now becomes one of the most talented players in Minnesota’s secondary.

Since this is McDonald’s third school he does need a waiver to play immediately, but due to the coaching change, his chances of getting one are relatively high. With SE Louisiana transfer Jack Henderson likely slotted in as the starting nickel CB, McDonald will likely be playing a similar role. He has the versatility to help the Maroon & Gold at any position in the secondary and add much-needed depth to that position.

What is next?:

With the addition of Rowan Zolman (Miami OH), Tre’Von Jones (Elon) and now McDonald in the Spring transfer portal window, the Gophers have addressed their secondary need. With so many new pieces there are obviously still a few question marks, but Joe Rossi now has some pieces to play with. After they added Jones I said if they added one more DB it would be a good portal window, but at this point, I do not think they might be done yet. Everyone is losing players to the portal, but P.J. Fleck is starting to answer back adding some impressive talent.

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