CHAMPAIGN (WCIA) — Former Illini George McDonald is coming back to his alma mater, this time as a coach. McDonald played receiver at Illinois from 1995-98, while also lettering in track and field for two years. On Wednesday night, new Illini head coach Bret Bielema named McDonald his assistant head coach and wide receivers coach.
“It was almost 20 years ago when I met George McDonald on the recruiting trails in South Florida,” Bielema said. “George has established himself as a premier football coach, but more importantly, as a leader of young men. To bring him back as the assistant head coach at the University of Illinois, to work our wide receivers, and to help us build this program into what he knows it can be as a former student-athlete, while bringing his family into the Champaign-Urbana community, is a true pleasure.”
McDonald comes to Champaign after spending the past six seasons at North Carolina State. He held numerous positions there, including receivers coach, co-offensive coordinator, passing game coordinator, recruiting coordinator and assistant head coach.
“I’m super excited to come back to the University of Illinois,” McDonald said. “Everything I’ve accomplished in my career can be attributed to the U of I and the former players, coaches and staff who helped mold me into the person I am today. It’s awesome to be able to work with Coach Bielema as a part of his staff and to work and learn under him. And, talking to Josh Whitman has me looking forward to doing something special at my alma mater and making the state of Illinois proud of what we’re about to build. There have been a lot of changes to campus since I was there, but I’ve never seen a nicer facility than the Smith Center. It is truly a game changer.”
McDonald was a four-year letter winner at receiver for the Fighting Illini and completed his Illinois football career with 57 receptions for 589 yards and four touchdowns. He led the Big Ten in kickoff return yardage in 1996 (736) while returning 57 kickoffs for 1,276 yards (22.4 avg.) during his career. McDonald also ran track his freshman and senior years, earning All-Big Ten honors his senior year when he set an Illinois record with a time of 6.74 in the 60 meters, a mark that still ranks seventh on the Illini top times list, to win the 1999 Big Ten Indoor Championships 60m title.
2021: Illinois (Assistant Head Coach/Wide Receivers)
2020: North Carolina State (Wide Receivers/Pass Game Coor./Recruiting Coor./Asst HC)
2019: North Carolina State (Wide Receivers/Co-Offensive Coor./Recruiting Coor.)
2017-18: North Carolina State (Wide Receivers/Passing Game Coordinator)
2015-16: North Carolina State (Wide Receivers)
2013-14: Syracuse (Offensive Coor./Assistant Head Coach)
2011-12: Miami (Wide Receivers/Passing Game Coordinator)
2009-10: Cleveland Browns (Wide Receivers)
2007-08: Minnesota (Wide Receivers)
2005-06: Western Michigan (Offensive Coor./Wide Receivers)
2004: Stanford (Tight Ends)
2001-03: Northern Illinois (Wide Receivers)
2000: Ball State (Graduate Assistant)
1995-98: Illinois (4-year letterman in football/2-year letterman in track & field)