Back home again: Illinois announces hiring of former player to assistant coach role
Illinois officially announced the hiring of former Illini receiver George McDonald on Wednesday evening.
McDonald will serve as Bret Bielema’s assistant head coach and wide receivers coach.
Here’s the announcement:
Welcome back home, @CoachGMcDonald!
The former #Illini is back as assistant head coach/wide receivers coach. 🔶🔷
— Illinois Football (@IlliniFootball) January 21, 2021
McDonald played for Illinois from 1995-98, racking up 589 yards and four touchdowns over that span.
More recently, McDonald was the receivers coach at North Carolina State.
“It was almost 20 years ago when I met George McDonald on the recruiting trails in South Florida,” Bielema said in a statement. “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 also said he’s excited to be back at his alma mater.
“I’m super excited to come back to the University of Illinois,” McDonald said in a statement. “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 also overlapped with Illinois athletic director Josh Whitman, who played tight end for the Illini from 1997-2000. Here’s Whitman’s response to the hire:
Excited to welcome back to @IlliniFootball my teammate and #ILLINI brother, @CoachGMcDonald! Proud to have Geo back in 🔶🔷 and looking forward to him working with our next generation of #ILLINI! The future is bright! #Illini4Life #JoinTheFight https://t.co/3dedUMfKno
— Josh Whitman (@IlliniAD) January 21, 2021