California University of Pennsylvania football coach Mike Kellar couldn't believe his luck.
Kellar had just bid adieu to safety Rontez Miles, a four-year starter and two-time All-American who graduated.
While contemplating who would be Miles' replacement, Kellar had a three-year starter -- also a one-time All-American -- miraculously step into the picture.
"It was the middle of December," Kellar recalled. "Mike Lopez and his coaching staff were let go at Fairmont State on a Monday afternoon. On Tuesday morning, I came into my office and a release from Dewey McDonald was on my desk."
McDonald was a three-year starter at safety for Fairmont State in West Virginia. In 2011, he was an honorable mention selection on the Beyond Sports College Network All-American Team. He was also a first-team Capital One Academic All-American that year but missed last season with a broken elbow.
"I called him that morning and he visited the campus that afternoon," Kellar said. "Later that week, he decided to transfer to California. It was a fluke thing that we got him. He came out of nowhere."
California's fans will get their first chance to see McDonald when the Vulcans play at Hillsdale in the Sept. 7 opener.
"I was actually very familiar with Dewey," Kellar said. "When I was the head coach at Concord, we played against Dewey two years and he was as good as any safety in our league. We're very fortunate to get him."
Ironically, Lopez was hired as the Vulcans' defensive coordinator when Mike Conway left to become head coach at Chicago's North Park University.
"From the outside, it looks as if we hired Mike, then Dewey followed his former coach," Kellar said. "But that's certainly not the case. Dewey was here first."
Kellar hired Lopez Feb. 28 and quickly switched to a different defensive scheme.
"We put in our new defensive scheme during spring workouts and Dewey knew it better than any of our players," Kellar said. "It's kind of weird to have a new player know the defense better than the kids who were here already. We were very fortunate to get Dewey."
McDonald had just finished his undergraduate work at Fairmont State when the coaching change took place.
"I didn't want to transition in with another coaching staff," McDonald said. "It came down to either California or Shepherd. I went to Jefferson High School in West Virginia and Shepherd's campus is very close to my hometown. When I visited the campus, I fell in love with California and decided this was the place for me."
McDonald sat out the 2012 season after a fluke injury.
"It was the last day of camp and we were going over special teams assignments," McDonald recalled. "One of my teammates got hurt, so I ran out to replace him. I slipped and broke my elbow. It was a freak accident. The doctor immediately told me I was done for the season."
McDonald could have returned later that season.
"I could have come back with four or five games left, but I decided to take a redshirt year," McDonald said. "When the coaching staff was let go, I decided it was time for me to leave also."
McDonald's academic credentials are just as impressive.
"I graduated with three bachelor's degrees in sports management, marketing and business management," McDonald said. "I'm now working on a master's in business management."
McDonald might hold off on using his degrees.
"I would love to have a chance to play in the NFL," McDonald said. "For that to happen, I must have a good senior year at California. I'm really looking forward to playing for the Vulcans in the PSAC."sportscollegedistrict