Tennessee will host its second wave of official visitors this weekend. Peach State running back Jordan McDonald will join the group, as he returns to Rocky Top for the second time in two months. McDonald made the trip to Knoxville with his family and Milton High teammates Mo Clipper and Lebbeus Overton in April to watch the Orange & White game as a spectator. This time around, McDonald will get an opportunity to interact with the coaches and players, and he previews the trip to Knoxville here.
McDonald, who has already taken June visits to Georgia, Alabama, and UCF, is now fully engaged in the process as he starts his first official of the recruiting cycle.
"It has been very exciting because I had a lot of tension that needed to be released with it," he said about the excitement getting back to college campuses. "Seeing coaches in person, instead of getting text messages, graphics, and just actually being able to see everything in person and be able to get that on-campus feeling and get that vibe back because we missed a lot with COVID that whole year and a half, it was complete madness not being able to see them face-to-face and get a vibe for their energy and being able to see if they are telling you what you want to hear or if they are truthful with you. That is one thing I really like about being able to go on these visits. I am blessed that we get to go on these visits to get back on campus and get that person-to-person interaction going."
There is plenty of familiarity between McDonald and the Tennessee staff, as they also recruited him during their stop at UCF. So, what is he looking to see this weekend in Knoxville?
"What I am looking for on this weekend with the Vols, I am really just wanting to get to know coach Heupel and coach Mack and all of those different coaches up there on a different level," McDonald said. "Get to know all of those guys up there on a more personal level and be able to get a good feel of the vibe from the coaches and get some insight and knowledge on what they do with the players and their day-to-day lives. Just be able to sit down and break bread with all of them and get that man-to-man interaction and feed off of that energy and see where we go from there."
With it being his first official visit, McDonald will look to check off several boxes with the Vols, but one very important one.
"I would say the biggest and main question I need answered this weekend is what type of family and culture would I be walking into if I were to go to Tennessee," he said about what he needs to learn. "And what type of relationship the players have with each other and the staff, and what type of family they have built there. For me, the number one thing on my list, and the number one thing for me as a person in general, is family. Family is everything, and family is important. That bond of trust you have with knowing you can trust someone one hundred percent to have your back on the field is just something special to have. I know with me when it is like 4th down and those 3rd and longs, and being able to look at my o-lineman Mo Clipper and being on the sideline looking at LT on defense, I can put my faith in them to make the play for me and make a great decision for the team. That is the type of thing I am looking to see when I get down to Tennessee."
In an interview with VR2 on SI earlier this year, McDonald discussed the importance of building his brand at the next level. Earlier this week, Tennessee rolled out their plan for NIL, and it caught the attention of the Peach State star.
"That is very exciting," he said. "Because if a coach is going to put their players in the limelight and let their players shine and build their own brand to build a new face of Tennessee, I think it would bring a lot of things to a different level. I think it would open up a lot of things with college football players being able to make a profit off their own name, image and likeness. I think the plan is very special and can help build a new culture and family because you are able to raise and grow all together.
McDonald will travel to Knoxville this afternoon after arriving back in Atlanta from an extensive unofficial visit with Central Florida, which you will be able to read about at Inside The Knights later today.
McDonald will post live updates from his visit on the VR2 on SI instagram account.