Back in the spring McKinley hit campus with his 7-on-7 team. Last month the four-star receiver from Corona, Calif., returned for another look during the Irish Invasion. He accompanied three-star safety Chacho Ulloa, a high school teammate.
“It was good,” McKinley said. “Because of the groin injury I didn’t get to perform but it was good going out there and interacting with the players and seeing all the coaches again. Seeing the campus, it was nice to see.”
McKinley spent part of the Irish Invasion trip reconnecting with Equanimeous St. Brown, a freshman wide receiver and former 7-on-7 teammate. McKinley has gleaned some insight into why St. Brown made the Irish his choice.
“I would say just the tradition of Notre Dame,” McKinley said. “I didn’t talk to him too much about it but kinda have a feel for what it might be. Just the tradition of Notre Dame, being a good academic school and a football school at the same time. It’s just somewhere you really wanna be at.”
McKinley already has another trip to South Bend set. He’ll be back on campus in mid-October for the USC game on an official visit.
Oregon also has an official visit on the books for Nov. 7. McKinley is also targeting trips to Ohio State and Tennessee. USC and UCLA are likely to receive unofficial visits during the season thanks to their proximity to Corona, located about and hour southeast of the Los Angeles Coliseum.
McKinley wants to learn more from the players at each place on those trips.
“I just want to see what they like about it,” he said. “Like do they like the area? Do they really like being there? Would they want to go somewhere else? When I go to schools like that I ask the players to really see where I want to go.”
Oregon has worked its way into the mix thanks to former prep teammate Cameron Hunt, now an offensive lineman in Eugene.
“They always talk about how they really like it and they want me to go up there,” McKinley said. “Then I’m not too much talking with coach (Mark) Helfrich but I’ve met him a few times and get a good feeling with him. I’m just looking forward to getting out there.”
Once McKinley gets the official visits done he’ll go into decision-making mode. He plans to announce at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, although he could have the choice made before then.
“I would say just what school presents the best opportunity for me is where I’m gonna go,” he said. “I want to announce it at the Army Bowl. I’m not sure if I’m gonna make a silent one before.”