Greatest Wildcats Jersey Countdown: #80

#80 Darnell McDonald (WR) 1997-1998 (Others considered: Kent Dean)

Why?: Following the 1996 season, the Wildcats were desperate to find wide receivers. Kevin Lockett and Jimmy Dean had graduated and Andre Anderson had been kicked off the team, leaving the Wildcats with only Troy Hackney as an experienced wide receiver. Snyder turned to the Junior college ranks and pulled out two gems in Gavin Peries and Darnell McDonald. Of the two, McDonald proved to be the explosive weapon, leading the team in receiving yards in a season in which the running game was a stronger facet of the Wildcat offense. McDonald exploded in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl hauling in 7 catches for 206 yards and 3 touchdowns in leading the Wildcats to victory over Syracuse. McDonald’s senior season was truly special. Aided by the emergence of freshman Aaron Lockett, McDonald became the go-to receiver for Michael Bishop, becoming the first Wildcat receiver to have more than 1,000 yards receiving in one season. McDonald was honored with a first team All-Conference selection, and a third team All-America selection. His 75 catches on the season stood as a record for 10 years before Jordy Nelson broke it. His yardage total for one season stood until 2000 when Quincy Morgan surpassed him. Despite his single-season records being broken, McDonald still ranks 17th all-time in receiving yardage, & 6th all-time in touchdowns. McDonald was drafted in the 7th round by the Buccaneers and played 1 season in the NFL and XFL, before spending two years in the CFL.

Career Numbers:

Catches: 96

Yards: 1,533

YPC: 15.96

TDs: 15

Most Memorable Play: Despite the impressive wide open catch against Nebraska, the best example of McDonald’s skill was against Syracuse in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl. Leading 21-15 at the start of the 4th quarter, the game was still in doubt. That was until Michael Bishop launched a pass down the sideline. Fighting off a pass interference penalty from the defender, McDonald hauled in the reception and raced 77 yards to the endzone to extend the Cats’ lead to 13 and help secure the win.

Current Player on the Roster Wearing #80: None yet though the official fall roster is not available.

Odds to Replace McDonald on This List: No odds until player wearing jersey number is confirmed.

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