RECRUITING: McKinney mulls chance to visit Florida

SAN ANTONIO --- James McKinney has received calls from most of the powerhouse football programs in the country this year, but recently, the defensive end from Louisville (KY) Central who is rated four stars by has become a hot item on Florida's recruiting board. At 6-3, 270, McKinney is big enough to play defensive end now, and could even grow into a defensive tackle at the next level.

He's practicing hard, but having a very good time this week as a member of the East team at the US Army All-American Bowl. He's an outstanding pass rusher who had 20 sacks in his final two high school seasons, one of the reasons he was selected to play among the nation's elite.

Three days into East practices, McKinney says "everything is going well." He is going up against some of the wider bodies he's ever seen every day when he faces off against the East offensive line.

"You don't see that every day in Kentucky and I am glad," he said. "They are all big and athletic. I think they must all play basketball. It's fun going against the best."

He's heard from most of the big time programs in the country, but he's got a list of six that really have his interest. He's already visited Michigan, Clemson and Nebraska and says "I'm supposed to be taking a visit to Florida or Oklahoma. I already visited Louisville."

Oklahoma relies on the stability of a coaching staff that has won 66 of 78 games in the past six years, but despite Oklahoma's success and the newness of a Florida staff, the Gators have postured themselves to earn a visit.

"All the players [who are] talking about going to Florida are trying to get me to go there," he said without revealing the names of the enthused potential Gators. "I don't know I might go ahead and do it (take the Florida visit). I have to call Coach (Greg) Mattison (Florida co-defensive coordinator). He was my favorite defensive line coach. I camped with him at Notre Dame."

McKinney has narrowed down the schools on his list by following a criterion that includes academics and of course, football.

"The people and academic support are very important," he said. "Is the team family oriented? Is everyone helping each other out, no individuality? I want the team concept."

He said competition at his position doesn't bother him in the least.

"Depth charts are not an issue," he said. "The best player plays. If I am the best player, they are going to play me."

McKinney has a great attitude, certainly one that Coach Urban Meyer would like to instill into his team as he puts together his first recruiting class at the University of Florida. Meyer is opening eyes with his ability to get top prospects to visit Florida. Earning a visit from James McKinney would be a real coup for the first year Florida coach.

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is played in San Antonio, Texas, at the Alamodome on Jan. 15, 2005, and broadcast nationally on NBC at 1 p.m., Eastern. is a sponsor, the official selection partner and exclusive on-line partner of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, as well as the associated U.S. Army Combine for underclassmen.

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