Southeast football alum makes history
Southeast football had a historic weekend at the NFL Draft as former Southeast linebacker Kendall Donnerson was taken with the 248th pick by the Green Bay Packers.
Southeast coach Tom Matukewicz voiced proud in Donnerson, as well as four other former Southeast players who were invited to training camp by three different teams.
“Well I’m just so happy for him and his family, I think every kid when you start playing this game thinks about getting drafted, I’m still hoping to get drafted.” Matukewicz said.
Cornerback Mike Ford and linebacker Chad Meredith both signed as undrafted free agents in the Detroit Lions organization after receiving invites to training camp, as well defensive back Rico McWilliams who was picked up by the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent. Former Southeast quarterback Jesse Hosket was invited to the Oakland Raiders organization to compete in mini-camp.
Matukewicz said If given the chance to talk to Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, he would tell him; “Your going to get a player that loves the game, plays with an extreme amount of emotion, and will work as hard as he physically can to add value to the program.”
Donnerson ranks among Southeast top 10 in career tackles for loss, something Matukewicz says could separate him as a player.
“His ability to rush the passer ultimately, you know, that skill set alone put him over the top to get drafted” Matukewicz said.
Donnerson, who is listed as 6 foot 2 and 248 pounds, was not always the physical presence he is today..
“Out of highschool he did not have any other offers, He came in thin, only about 205...SEMO gave him the opportunity and the structure both on the field and in the classroom to succeed at a really high level,” Matukewicz said.
Southeast defensive coordinator Bryce Saia said an important part of making the transition to the pros will be learning the new playbook.
“He got used to our system quickly and he will need to used to theirs,” Matukewicz said.
Saia said he felt all five players had a shot at getting drafted, but he always knew Donnerson had a pretty good chance at hearing his name called.
“He can play as long as he wants to play. ...I’m very proud of him, Saia said.
In 2017 the Ohio Valley Conference did not have any players drafted. Only two players were drafted this year, one of them being Donnerson.
“To be able to have five kids that are going to be at pro camp is pretty impressive at the FCS level,” Matukewicz said. “We have an ability to recruit talented players, but more than anything we are developing them.”
Matukewicz said for Donnerson to have a long pro career, “He’s got to stay healthy, can’t miss reps, and just get in there and learn the system and make plays like he’s always done.”