Fairmont State University’s Dewey McDonald personifies the term “student-athlete.”
Just like the term itself, McDonald makes sure he puts the student before the athlete in his life.
Entering his senior season and fourth year at the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference school, McDonald already has three bachelor’s degrees in business management, marketing and sports management. He will begin working on a master’s degree in business administration in the fall.
“The competition out there in the marketplace is stiff,” said McDonald, a 6-foot-1, 215-pound senior from Ranson, W.Va. “There are so many students coming from bigger schools and other countries, you have to go full throttle in the classroom if you want to be a success and get a job.”
McDonald, who has a 3.94 cumulative grade point average, demonstrates an uncommon drive to succeed. He took 15 hours in the fall semester of his freshman year, but he has taken 18 or 21 hours in every semester since then. He also took six hours in his first summer, 12 hours in his second summer and 18 hours in his third summer.
“My drive comes from my family and the Lord,” McDonald said. “I talk to Him every day. He pushes me to be my best every day. I’m the first person in my family to go to college and get a degree. I’m carrying the load for my family. My parents are pretty proud of me. They give me a lot of support and motivation.”
Fighting Falcons head coach Mike Lopez is equally proud of McDonald, who was a Capital One Academic All-America first-team selection last year.
“He is probably one of the best young men we have ever had in our program,” said Lopez, who has been a player, student-assistant, assistant coach or head coach at Fairmont State for all but one of the past 17 years. “That is a pretty good compliment.
“He is naturally smart, but he works extremely hard. He didn’t redshirt, so that makes what he has accomplished even more impressive. What he stands for as a person academically and athletically is just remarkable. What he has done for our program and university is just remarkable. I am just thankful he was able to commit to us and do so much for us. When you have guys like that wearing FSU on their chest, it makes you pretty proud.”
McDonald attributes his success to Fairmont State and its staff.
“It’s just a blessing, honestly,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the opportunities Fairmont has given me. I couldn’t do it without the people here. The professors take pride in getting to know you. They are amazing. They also do a great job at the library, and the tutors are very helpful. Our coaches do a great job emphasizing the importance of education and how he wants us to perform in the classroom.”
His performance on the football field also is impressive. McDonald was an All-WVIAC first-team selection in 2009 and 2010; he was a second-team selection in 2011.
A three-year starter at free safety, McDonald had 73 tackles, five pass breakups, four tackles for loss and one interception last season. He also forced one fumble and recovered another fumble.
“He has size, speed and strength, and he is a very smart player,” Lopez said of McDonald, who ran the 40-yard dash in 4.48 seconds in front of NFL scouts this year. “As our free safety, he gets us lined up and makes sure everybody has their coverage adjustments. It is just a combination of what makes him who he is; he is very fast, very strong, very intelligent and very explosive.”
McDonald is one of 14 returning starters, including eight on defense, for the Fighting Falcons, who finished sixth in the nine-team WVIAC standings last season with a 7-4 overall record and 4-4 conference mark.
“He doesn’t think he has played his best ball,” Lopez said of McDonald, who was a three-sport star (football, basketball and track) at Jefferson High School. “He really wants to let it go this year; he wants to not think and just play. That is one of his objectives this year.”
McDonald, who has 178 tackles and nine interceptions in his college career, hopes an NFL opportunity follows a WVIAC title during the 2012-2013 school year.
“Your senior season, you really can’t put a word or phrase on it,” said McDonald, a versatile athlete who won Class AAA state titles in the high jump and 400-meter relay in high school. “I want to go out with a bang. I want to go out with a ring. We have worked hard. That would top everything off.”