Somehow, some way, Andrew McDonald is back behind center as a starting quarterback, and will be playing against a highly ranked team in a big-time venue.

McDonald, the former Newport Harbor High standout who made his way from Arizona walk-on to Santa Ana College, will lead little New Mexico State at No. 15 Texas Saturday at 5 p.m. (PST, Longhorn Network) at Texas Memorial Stadium.

Just how did McDonald get here? He threw all of three passes last year for the Aggies, who went 1-11.

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But now he's the junior college transfer getting his first start.

New Mexico State lost its best wide receiver Austin Franklin, who was declared academically ineligible.

Travaughn Colwell was slated to become the Aggies' starting QB, but he was moved to wide receiver after Franklin's departure.

Enter McDonald, who will have the daunting task of going up against the Longhorns on the road.

McDonald will do his best to use the experience gathered from his days at Santa Ana, and the strong qualities he acquired while at Newport Harbor.

McDonald also has strong genes. He is the son of Paul McDonald, a former USC All-American quarterback who played in the NFL.

Last year, Andrew McDonald didn't see much time with the Aggies, as he played in just one game at Ohio University. He completed one pass for three yards and he also ran the ball three times.

At Santa Ana College, he was stellar for the Dons, as a two-time first-team all-conference performer in two seasons.

He completed 169 of 273 passes for 2,033 yards and 22 touchdowns as a sophomore in 2011. He threw seven interceptions and his 61.9% completion rate ranked ninth in the state.

McDonald threw for 4,226 yards and 50 touchdowns in two seasons with the Dons, who he helped post a 9-2 record and play in a bowl game in 2010. Santa Ana was 5-5 in 2011.

He threw for 28 touchdowns in 2010, which was a Santa Ana College single-season record, and he had the single-season record for completion percentage at 69.0, while tying the single-game record with five touchdown passes against College of the Desert.

McDonald threw for 3,207 yards in two seasons as the starter at Newport Harbor, which went 15-7 during his tenure under Coach Jeff Brinkley.

As a senior for the Sailors, McDonald completed 66.1% of his passes for 15 touchdowns and only six interceptions on his way to first-team All-Sunset League and Newport-Mesa Dream Team recognition.

And now he's the starting quarterback for the Aggies, who have a new coach (Doug Martin) and an independent playing schedule. New Mexico State will join the Sun Belt Conference next year.

This year, the Aggies open the year at Texas with a persistent junior college transfer, and former Sailor, as their starting quarterback.

— Steve Virgen