The McGills visit Stanford: Father and son react to second trip

Jacob Rayburn, Publisher
Cardinal Sports Report
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When Stanford hosted UCLA there were several top 2019 defensive backs watching from the stands and one of them was Coppell High’s Jonathan McGill. It was the Texan’s second visit to The Farm and first since he was offered a scholarship in June.

Jonathan was again joined by his parents Tonya and Norris, who are both pastors at the Antioch Christian Church in Irving. Not surprisingly given how soon he visited after his first time on campus, Jonathan said he has connected well with Stanford’s coaches.

“The relationship is very good with the coaches and I talk with (defensive backs coach Duane) Akina a lot,” he said. “The coaches are some of the best in the business and also the players are very disciplined.”

Like the other recruits on the visit Jonathan highlighted his tour of the Home of Champions and watching the Cardinal beat UCLA as great experiences during that Saturday. And in general “the campus was fascinating as always.”

Norris happily tweeted about the experience as he watched his son enjoy taking photos in a Stanford jersey and meeting friend and mentor Solomon Thomas.

“We did have a really good time,” Norris said. “What makes it a good experience for us is that it’s a good experience for him.”

Being able to talk to Thomas during the visit emphasized the strength of a relationship that has been very beneficial in Jonathan’s life.

“One of the things that is helping us is Solomon,” Norris said. “Coming from the same town and the same high school, his mother coached Jonathan in middle school. We’ve known them for a long time. Getting insight from him about how he made the transition and would he change anything -- that feedback from Solomon has been invaluable for Jonathan.”

It’s natural for a young athlete to take everything in about a college and have different priorities compared to a parent. Distance from home is often a major hurdle in a Stanford recruitment, but that’s not the case for the McGills.

Even though their jobs as pastors would make it difficult to travel for games, they’re focus is on making sure Jonathan has the best experience possible.

“As his parents, the first thing I want for Jonathan is that he would be coached by a good man,” Norris said. “The integrity of the coach, the character, how they feel about the kids -- that is really, really important for us as parents. It doesn’t matter where that coach is, that is more important than the distance. I would rather have a great coach far away from home than a coach right next door who may not be on the up-and-up with the kids.”

And the list of coaches who are interested in McGill is likely to lengthen as he excels under the spotlight in Coppell. Despite having a cast on his left hand, McGill is still making plays on offense and defense.

Norris played football through college and knows a football player when he sees one and he wasn’t going to sugarcoat it to his son if he didn’t have talent.

“He’s my son and if he didn’t have it I’d tell, ‘You don’t have it,’” he laughed. “But I saw early on he was playing peewee football in Coppell and he has the things you don’t coach. Jonathan at an early age in elementary school would come home and watch film. He was studying film and sometimes we’d have to make him go to bed because he was doing that. I didn’t tell him to do that. The coaches didn’t tell him to do that.

“I told my wife when he was probably in the fifth or sixth grade, ‘Before he’s done in high school he’s going to be something special and he’s going to get a lot of attention. I want you to be ready for that when it happens.’”

The recruiting process may be a long way from over for Jonathan and his family, but it appears Stanford is a school that is prominent in the thinking of the McGills.

“Getting that offer probably ranks up there in the top five of anything that can happen to Jonathan,” Norris said. “That was awesome.”

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