CSDTV: Heart At-Takk

VIDEO: Highlights of Takkarist McKinley as he discusses recruiting and the opportunity to play in the Cal State Game with fellow Cal commits.

VISALIA, Calif. -- "He's an animal. Just an animal," marveled Ray Hudson, California tight end/inside receiver commit, as he watched his fellow future Bear -- Takkarist McKinley -- spin off an offensive tackle and tag the quarterback during the Northern California team's final practice before Saturday's Cal State Game.

At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds with long, lanky arms, loose hips and a 10.5-second 100-meter time, McKinley drew slack jaws and wide eyes from his future teammates, including quarterback Jared Goff, who won't play on Saturday due to a tweaked knee.

"He's going to be so good," Goff says to himself as he watched from the backfield.

McKinley looks to have the starting WILL linebacker spot nailed down for Saturday's clash with the So Cal squad, and certainly has the frame to add enough muscle to turn himself into a weak side defensive end in defensive coordinator Andy Buh's 4-3 scheme, and he in fact has played a bit of both during the week of practices.

"I'm not used to playing D-end; I'm more of an outside linebacker, but you've got to do what the coaches tell you to do -- whatever they tell me to do, I do it," McKinley said.

McKinley plans to get in touch with Buh as soon as he can once the holiday dead period is over, and he's excited to find out what Buh plans for him and the Bears defense. He's also started setting up a meeting with new head coach Sonny Dykes.

"I haven't talked with coach Dykes at all, but my uncle -- my guardian -- he talked to him and he said everything's still good; he just wants to meet with me in person, so we'll probably meet down at my school next week," McKinley said.

Even though he's still solidly committed to Cal, McKinley plans to take official visits to Nevada and Washington State after the first of the year -- trips he intended to make even before the coaching change in Berkeley.

"I was going to take them anyway, because you've always got to keep your options open," McKinley says. "You never know what will happen. Cal might find somebody better, so I have to have a backup plan."

Judging by the reactions of his fellow Cal commits, though, it looks like the Bears would be hard-pressed to find a purer athlete, and a young one at that -- McKinley just turned 17, and is thoroughly enjoying his Cal State Game experience in Visalia.

"It means everything," McKinley says. "It shows all the hard work and dedication, it pays off. It really does pay off."

He's also tickled about playing on the same team with several other Cal commits in Hudson, Goff and Matt Anderson, and as he smiles at the thought, Hudson gambols up next to him and gives a quick, mischievous eyebrow dance.

"We're all right here," McKinley laughed. "It's good just to meet them and see how they roll and meet your fellow teammates -- your future teammates."

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