Speedy DE eyes the Cougs

HE'S A three-star prospect you haven't heard much of this recruiting cycle. The 6-3, 245-pounder has been timed in the 100-meter dash at 10.5 seconds, runs the anchor for his high school track team and is committed to another Pac-12 school. He's also heading to Pullman this weekend for an official visit.

Takkarist McKinley out of Richmond, Calif. isn't your typical defensive end prospect. He has blazing speed, but he's also shown the physical aggression needed in the trenches to win battles. His style of play has caught the eye of college recruiters, with Washington State being a school he's been in constant communication with over the past few months.

It's all led to an official visit to Pullman this weekend.

"I'm excited to get up there, but I'm kind of scared as well because I've never been on a plane before (laugh). I'm looking forward to seeing the campus and checking out some of the facilities they have," McKinley said.

McKinley, out of Kennedy High gave his verbal pledge to Cal back in June, but said with the recent changes with the coaching staff, he wants to keep his options open and has told Cal he'll be taking other trips.

"Cal is a great school," McKinley said. "It's one of the best public universities in the United States. I was excited when I committed there, but when the coaching staff got fired, I was really disappointed because I had a great relationship with Coach Jeff Tedford and Coach Thompson (linebackers). I met with Coach Sonny Dykes yesterday and he was excited to meet me. It's a solid commitment, but I still want to take other visits because you never know what could happen.

"I'm going to WSU this weekend to see if they really want me or not. As of right now, I'd say they're in my top three. On a scale of 1-10 for my interest level in them, I'd give them an 8.5. I'm excited to get up there and see what they have to offer."

McKinley was offered by San Diego State on Monday and is seeing increased interest from UCLA and Nevada. McKinley said he feels like both schools are close to offering and that he hopes to take official visits to both campuses. McKinley said his top three is Cal, WSU and Nevada, but if UCLA were to offer, the Bruins would move up near the top.

As for his high interest in the Cougs, McKinley said the direction of the program is what has him most excited to learn more about Wazzu. He's being recruited by special teams coach and area recruiter Eric Russell.

"They've been recruiting me for about three months and Coach Russell has told me I can come in and start right away," McKinley said. "I know they're rebuilding right now and they think I can be an impact player for them if I put the time and effort in. The new coaching staff believes in the program and they're recruiting guys who care about the change in the culture of WSU."

McKinley said he doesn't know too much about the Cougs heading into his visit, but that's something he hopes will change after he leaves the Palouse on Sunday.

"I know this year they beat Washington and that was a huge upset for them," McKinley said. "I know they've been to some Rose Bowls as well in the past and they've had some really good teams. I'm hoping the coaches can tell me more about that this weekend. I haven't met Coach Leach yet either, but I'm looking forward to meeting him this weekend. He came from Texas Tech and is a winning coach. I can't wait to sit down with him and talk some football."

WSU is recruiting McKinley as a DE, but the coaches also told him he could get a look at the BUCK LB position. McKinley said he is more of an edge rusher, but Mike Bobino, Kennedy Athletic Advisor and McKinley's mentor, told CF.C the athletic defenseman can do a little bit of everything.

"Athletically, he reminds of me former Tennessee Titan Jevon Kearse," Bobino said. "He's quick off the edge, but he's strong as well. He's a diamond in the rough, but he has a lot of football in him. We're from a small school, so we don't get a lot of exposure, but if he was at one of the big noticeable schools, there's no doubt in my mind he'd be ranked as one of the top players in the state. He's a kid that runs track for us and runs the 100 meters in 10.5 seconds at 245 pounds. He's just a freak athlete."

Bobino added that McKinley's personality and leadership skills would also make a big difference for his teammates while he's in college.

"I've been working with him for a long time and he's a great kid," Bobino said. "Academically he's on the deans list and he's a humble and soft spoken kid. If things work the way I think they will, I could see him playing in the NFL. There hasn't been a kid with his ability that's come out of Kennedy. He's not flashy, but he takes care of business and is a leader among his peers."

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