Football: Secondary coach Tim McDonald leaves for NFL

Tim McDonald has joined the coaching staff of the New York Jets after one year as a Fresno State assistant coach, Jets coach Rex Ryan officially announced Thursday in a press conference.

McDonald will serve as the Jets’ defensive backs coach, the same position he held this season at Fresno State.

Dennis Thurman, the Jets’ previous secondary coach, was promoted to defensive coordinator. Thurman and McDonald were teammates at USC.

McDonald was part of a Fresno State defensive coaching staff that helped coach a defense that forced 35 turnovers on the season, a drastic turnaround from the nine total turnovers the Bulldogs forced in 2011 when the team went 4-9.

Safety Phillip Thomas was a finalist for the Jim Thorpe Award this season that honors the nation’s top defensive back. Thomas, who led the nation with eight interceptions, and safety Derron Smith were All-Mountain West Conference first-team selections.

“I’m excited for T-Mac,” Fresno State coach Tim DeRuyter said in a statement released by the athletics department.

“He did an outstanding job for us this past year as evident by our four all-conference players in the secondary. He and coach [Jordan] Peterson far exceeded expectations because they were phenomenal coaching our guys up, which led to a lot of interest in him. Tim now gets a chance to follow a dream and go coach in the NFL, and I’m happy for him.”

The local product played quarterback at Edison High School in Fresno and was a six-time Pro Bowl selection in 13 seasons in the NFL.

McDonald played professionally for the San Francisco 49ers, where he was part of the team that won Super Bowl XXIX.

McDonald has steadily risen through the coaching ranks, arriving at Fresno State in 2012 after coaching Edison High School to a CIF Central Section championship in 2009.

McDonald coached sons T.J. and Tevin at Edison.

T.J. was a senior All-America safety at USC this season. Tevin is a cornerback at UCLA.

T.J. took to Twitter congratulate his dad on his new job.

“So proud of my pops. Pursuing his dream and being a great role model for me. Crazy timing! Congrats pops,” T.J. tweeted on Tuesday.

The vacant position on the Bulldogs’ coaching staff will probably not be filled until after National Signing Day on Feb. 6, DeRuyter said.

“As far as filling his spot, we’re probably not going to do anything until after Signing Day. There has been an unbelievable amount of interest in the position already. Got a couple of guys in mind, but we’ll probably stay focused on recruiting right now and look to make the hire shortly after that.”