In the film room...Javon McKinley

McKinley is one of several wide receivers that appear to be taking a very close look at Notre Dame. The list also includes, among others, Donnie Corley (Detroit), Joshua Hammond (Hallandale, Fla.) and Tre Nixon (Viera, Fla.).


• Stats: Caught 91 passes for 1,906 yards (20.9-yard average) and 20 touchdowns as a junior for the Huskies. Snagged 27 passes for 517 yards (19.1) and five scores as a sophomore.

• Assets: A long-striding, explosive athlete with home run ability after the catch. Effortlessly kicks into another gear. Beautiful, smooth, uncomplicated running stride. Displays excellent escapability, but remains a north-south runner at heart. Capable of taking the top off on the deep ball, although tends to do a majority of his work underneath and after the catch.

For the most part, shows solid pass-grabbing ability and good ball security on the catch. Has a knack for coming up with contested passes. Impossible to shut down on out and stop routes. Has knack for making plays when it doesn’t look like there’s a play to be made.

Has performed on the highest level against quality California competition. Plays stronger than his physique indicates. A no-frills, workmanlike approach.

• Room for improvement: Limits his catch radius with a reluctance to make grabs over his head. Doesn’t high-point passes commensurate to his length. Will let the football come to him as opposed to attacking it. Has a tendency to be an on-the-ground receiver. Doesn’t always play with a sense of urgency. Doesn’t always run crisp routes. Plays too tall.

• Top offers: Notre Dame. ACC: Miami. Big Ten: Illinois, Nebraska, Northwestern, Wisconsin; SEC: Tennessee; Big 12: Texas Tech; Pac 12: Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington.

• Early line: McKinley’s interests are all over the board, from USC and UCLA in his backyard, to Cal and Stanford in the northern part of the state, to Arizona State and Oregon in the Pac 12 beyond the in-state boarders, to Notre Dame and Ohio State in the Midwest, to Tennessee and Alabama (which hasn’t offered) in SEC country.

While attending the IMG 7-on-7 tournament in East Chicago the last week of April, McKinley and his family stopped by Notre Dame.

“It was a really fun experience, especially going to Notre Dame – a school like that you hear so much about their tradition and they really do have it there,” McKinley said.

In an interview with Scout’s Anna Hickey, McKinley called Notre Dame “a great school.” He’s also been quoted saying of Notre Dame: “I love the school.”

“I like the old-school feel with all of the buildings, and the coaching staff is made up of really good guys.”

McKinley and his family had a sit-down chat with Brian Kelly.

“He talked about how the school has great academics and football, and how there’s no other school that has a balance of the two – it’s either great football or great academics, but Notre Dame really does both.”

McKinley is on record stating that he’ll definitely take one of his official visits to Notre Dame. “That’s for sure,” McKinley said.

At the end of the day, however, the USC Trojans remain the team to beat.
 
• ND’s 2016 wide receiver recruiting: As usual, the list of wide receiver offers is extensive with the Master List arrow pointing up on McKinley, Donnie Corley (Detroit, Mich.), Joshua Hammond (Hallandale, Fla.) and Tre Nixon (Viera, Fla.).

The Irish are putting up a fight for Austin Mack (Fort Wayne, Ind.) and Ahmir Mitchell (Egg Harbor City, N.J.), but Ohio State is the pacesetter for the former while Rutgers and the Buckeyes lead the way for the latter. Tyler Vaughns (La Puente, Calif.) – Scout’s No. 1-ranked wideout – has expressed interest in Notre Dame.

• ND’s 2016 wide receiver depth chart: McKinley would play the W (boundary), X (field) or perhaps even Y (split tight end) positions at Notre Dame, so those are the positions evaluated in this section.

By 2016, Will Fuller could be in his last year, or an early departure for the NFL after ’15. Chris Brown will be gone and Corey Robinson likely will be in his fourth and final year in the program. Justin Brent and Corey Holmes will be juniors with two years of eligibility remaining while sophomores Equanimeous St. Brown, Miles Boykin and Jalen Guyton will have three or four years left.

• Summary: If I were in a position to coach McKinley on a daily basis, I’d be encouraging him to leave it all out on the field in an effort to maximize his skill set. There are tools in the toolbox that are still in their original packaging, so to speak. There is a ton of untapped potential in that 6-foot-2, 200-pound frame, and thus, personally, I would not rank him as the No. 30 overall prospect in the country, as Scout has done.

Having said that, this is a serious-minded young man who simply goes out and plays the game without all the fanfare and glitz normally associated with pass catchers. He makes play after play after play, and many times, it doesn’t look like he’s breaking a sweat. Success on the gridiron comes effortlessly to McKinley.

Does McKinley have top 30 potential? Yes, but he needs to learn how to expand his catch radius because he makes it easy for defensive backs – at least those on the next level – to prevent him from making a play. At Centennial High School, even against quality California competition, McKinley makes those plays.

Recommended path: Get in the weight room and increase the lower-body strength so he can better command the space above his head. Really focus on running sharp, crisp routes, not those rounded, half-hearted attempts that he sometimes made during his junior season. Work on a more consistent “get off” at the line of scrimmage. Take better advantage of the physical gifts bestowed upon him.

McKinley seems like the kind of kid who has the potential for a quality work ethic. Once he gains a better understanding of who he is and what he’s capable of achieving, the ceiling on this guy rises. If he doesn’t maximize his skills, he’ll be another promising wideout that fails to achieve heights within his reach. If he does maximize his skills, he has star potential.



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