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Team Player: Laura Rutledge and Jonathan McDonald

CHARLOTTE – Front Row’s “Team Player” series continues with SEC Nation host and ESPN sideline reporter, Laura Rutledge.

This year, Rutledge added “SEC Nation host” to her countless responsibilities as a reporter for ESPN’s college sports coverage, as well as serving as both commentator and reporter for SEC Network’s Friday Night Heights gymnastics action (Friday, Feb. 23, 7 p.m. ET). She’s even fit in work as a SportsCenter anchor in Bristol.

Rutledge’s “Team Player” is Jonathan “J-Mac” McDonald, researcher on SEC Nation, who works on SEC Network’s studio programming.

What makes Jonathan good at his job?
Jonathan’s mix of sports knowledge and number-crunching ability combined with his humor and writing style is a rare skill set. He is always willing to go the extra mile to make sure we are truly bringing fans watching SEC Nation something different. He conveys the most compelling information in a fun and current way.

McDonald’s take on Rutledge:

“It’s fun to work with Laura because it’s easy to tell she genuinely cares about people. Her goofiness and general excitement for life makes her intellect and work ethic less intimidating. The energy she brings makes the long hours of our jobs fly by.”

How does Jonathan help you do your job to the best of your ability?
Sometimes I think Jonathan and I share the same brain. When he is writing graphics for our show, it sounds like exactly what I would write and say. He approaches every day with a big smile and original perspective. When Joe Disney [SEC Nation producer] and I write and construct the show, Jonathan was there offering counter points and reminding us of perspectives we may want to consider.

Describe an instance when Jonathan went above and beyond to help you out?
I was new to hosting SEC Nation and even though I had been on the show as the reporter the previous year, I truly had no idea what to expect. Jonathan walked me through what previous hosts [Joe Tessitore and Maria Taylor] had done, and would scout out a quiet place close to our set each Saturday where we could go through every detail before it was ‘go time.’ By the time I got up to that desk, I couldn’t have been more prepared.