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January 21, 2013

Former USC safety says he'd love another chance to play for Monte Kiffin, who acts younger than his age

Former USC safety T.J. McDonald said he would be more than happy to play for his former coach, Monte Kiffin, again if he got a chance with the Cowboys.

“At this point in my career, I would love to play for anybody,” he said with a smile, “but especially for a coach that I know. I’m very familiar with that defense. I know he’s bringing that defense to Dallas. I know I’d be able to come in there, put my best foot forward, and be able to pick it up right away, and I know he knows that.

“But whether they need a safety or not, we’ll see.”

McDonald said no one should doubt Kiffin’s energy or work ethic at age 72.

“At any point of the day when I got out of class, when I got out of rehab or working out – whatever the case may be – I could go up to that office, and he was going to be in there with the remote in his hand, sitting the same way,” McDonald said.

He said Kiffin acts years younger.

“From the way he dances, I’d give him about 15 years,” McDonald said. “He dances. He does all kinds of stuff. He’s not just a sit-down guy. He gets up in front of the team, does dances, does his James Brown dance that he just loves. He loves it. It’s a lot of fun. We had a great time together.”

McDonald said no one was happy with the way last season went at USC but that the pro game and college game are different.

“He did a great job coaching us,” McDonald said of Kiffin. “I appreciate that. But I think that for him coming back to the pros, he’s going to be able to get back to what he knows, get back to what he loves doing, and I’m happy for him.”

McDonald said he knew Kiffin was going back to the NFL.

“He told me he wasn’t done coaching. He told me he still had more to go,” McDonald said. “Once he told me that, I know he’s a football guy, I know he loves this game, and that man is not going to stop until he wants to.”

McDonald said Kiffin requires his safeties to communicate, read their keys, play fast, stay on top and be fast. "You’ve got to play full speed. No loafs."

McDonald said he meets another Kiffin requirement – being physical.

“He hates guys that are going to turn down hits,” McDonald said. “You’ve got to be as physical as possible.”

-- Carlos Mendez

Twitter @calexmendez



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