LAWRENCE — It won’t feel quite like a normal senior day. Anthony McDonald already had one of those. Last year, as a fourth-year linebacker at Notre Dame, McDonald experienced the emotions when he walked out onto the field underneath Touchdown Jesus for the final time.
One year later, as a fifth-year transfer at Kansas, McDonald will close another chapter when KU plays host to Iowa State at 6 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
“It feels like it’s just gone by so fast,” McDonald said. “It feels like I was just a freshman walking in the doors in the summer at Notre Dame the other day.”
McDonald arrived in the summer, one part of a four-man band of fifth-year transfers. Quarterback Dayne Crist and tight end Mike Ragone both arrived from Notre Dame. And defensive end Josh Williams came over from Nebraska.
KU coach Charlie Weis hoped his new veterans could provide some leadership and toughness. And McDonald put off his dream of a career in the FBI or CIA to spend one more season playing football.
McDonald hoped for more victories, of course. But he doesn’t regret his decision to come to Kansas.
“It’ll be nice to be part of a program to say that we were the ones that helped get it going,” McDonald said.
There were no fairy-tale endings for the other fifth-year guys, either. Crist was benched midway through the season after continued struggles in the passing game. Ragone has mostly been used as an extra blocker in KU’s rushing attack. And Williams, while helping stabilize KU’s defensive line, has been solid — but not spectacular.
“I tie football to life a lot,” Williams said, “and I think that a situation like this, with the way the record was this year, with the expectations we had, I think it’s real humbling. And it’s something I can carry on with me.”
Williams says he doesn’t regret his decision. Neither do Crist or Ragone, even if they wish there was more wins, too. For now, Crist and Williams still have aspirations continue on their football careers, while McDonald says he’s ready to move on to a new phase.
“I’m grateful for everything football’s done for me,” McDonald said. “It’s been the biggest part of my life, up to this point. It got me through college. There’s no way I would have gotten a degree from the University of Notre Dame without football.
“I honestly don’t think my body could take these hits I keep giving out and taking every day.”