Javon McKinley will take another step in his recruitment this weekend with his first official visit.
Notre Dame gets the four-star wide receiver from Corona, Calif., next month. But before that McKinley will take a trip this weekend to Washington and make a stop at Tennessee on Oct. 10. His mother, Estrilla McKinley, will also make the trip Seattle over the next couple days.
She spoke with Irish Illustrated about the next steps in her son’s recruitment.
“We have never seen the academic side of (Washington), so that’s what we really want to see this weekend,” Estrilla said.
Trips to Tennessee and Notre Dame are the next scheduled visits, with Oregon slated to host in November.
“We don’t know much about Tennessee other than what we have heard about it,” she said. “Javon talks to the wide receivers coach and he’s really wanted him to come out.”
When the McKinleys take in Notre Dame against USC under the lights, it will be second and third visit to campus for mother and son, respectively.
McKinley visited campus in the spring with B2GSports when in the area for a 7-on-7 tournament. He returned in June for Irish Invasion. Both times he’s been accompanied by three-star safety Chacho Ulloa, a high school and 7-on-7 teammate with an Irish offer.
Ulloa will visit for the USC game as well.
“What has helped Notre Dame a lot is they showed us a lot of love in April,” Estrilla said. “We were there with his 7-on-7 team and they pulled us aside and walked us around. I don’t think I even asked any questions because I was in awe of the school.
“This time we really want to see what a game atmosphere is like. He wants to see if he can see himself really being part of the team and how he’d fit in. I want to see more of the business school at Notre Dame and ask them questions about being a student and how they handle that with practice and travel. There’s no question that Notre Dame has the best academic program.”
McKinley works for a company headquartered in Chicago.
“They are telling me that I’ll be able to work out of that office a lot,” McKinley said. “So I can fly to Chicago, and work there on Thursday and Friday, and then go down to Notre Dame for the game.”
Notre Dame’s trio of play-callers each put in time recruiting the McKinleys.
“Coach (Mike) Sanford is the only one that I talk to,” McKinley said. “I just love (Sanford). He is a great person and he is so down-to-earth. He lets us know they need Javon in their program. I know that Javon talks with Mike Denbrock and coach (Brian) Kelly as well as coach Sanford.”
McKinley plans to reschedule his official visit to UCLA, which was originally planned for the weekend following his trip to Notre Dame.
The Bruins are considered Notre Dame’s biggest competition.
“We may have to visit UCLA sometime in the beginning of December before the dead period starts,” McKinley said. “To be honest, I don’t know if we’ll be able to go in December until the week of because of playoffs. He has met the coaches a lot before, though. We want to see more of campus. I grew up right there, and I’ve never seen campus. The games aren’t a big deal.”
The McKinleys will do their due diligence as recruiting hits full stride this fall. A decision is expected in January at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
“Recently, I have talked to a couple of people that have gone through the recruiting process before, and they gave us a plan,” McKinley said. “I wish I had done this last year. We took so many unofficial visits and never asked the right questions. We have come up with what’s important to Javon and we can see where these schools fall on the scale.
“Last year at this time, there was no way my child was going to leave me. He’s a Southern California boy. Now I want him to go where the best place is for him. I want him to go where he is really going to fit in with the team, the players and on campus, somewhere he can show what he can do on the field. We aren’t going to just look at the coaches because we know coaches come and go for whatever reason. And, he wants to play early. Who doesn’t? We want the whole package.
“You know me, I’ll find a way to watch him wherever he goes. I’ll be on a plane.”
Irish Illustrated’s take: The success of Bruins’ freshman quarterback Josh Rosen in his first two games has caught the McKinleys’ attention, and location is obviously a plus. But those aren’t defining factors here. Notre Dame offers the full package in their eyes and has out-recruited every other program to date. The Irish lead, and they’ll be tough to unseat.
Notre Dame lined up several visitors for the night game against Texas and will do so again for the matchup with USC next month.
Between now and then expect the home gave visitors slate to be light by comparison, although this weekend against Georgia Tech isn’t without some interesting prospects across the junior and senior classes.
Three-star linebacker headlines Aaron Hansford headlines the list.
Notre Dame likes Hansford at either outside linebacker or safety and has not shortage of options at those positions. Other targets at linebacker include four-star USC commitment Daelin Hayes, three-star Jonathan Jones and five-star Caleb Kelly.
Hayes is expected to visit again for the USC game and is probably a take no matter what. Same goes for Kelly, who plans to visit for the postseason awards banquet.
Some underclassmen will spend Saturday at Notre Dame, perhaps none more intriguing than Jairus Grissom.
Offers have already started to roll in for the 6-foot-2, 200-pound athlete from Dearborn Heights, Mich. Minnesota joined a list this week that includes Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Houston, N.C. State, Toledo and Wake Forest.
Some programs have pitched safety to Grissom but he wants to stay at quarterback. He’s tried to model his game after one of the top dual-threat options in recent college history.
“I’m a really great leader,” Grissom said. “I play my game like Cam Newton. I can really do anything a coach wants me to do.”
Grissom plans to release his three-game highlight film after this week’s game.
Notre Dame will get Grissom on campus Saturday for the second time this season. He also visited for Texas, but showed up a late and didn’t get the full experience. Grissom hopes for a more in-depth trip this time around.
“I’ve been talking to coach Mike (Elston) and coach (Mike) Sanford too,” Grissom said. “They really like the way I play my game. Hopefully I get to send them a lot of my three-game highlight.”
-- Sophomore Indianapolis Cathedral running back Markese Stepp is expected to visit for the Georgia Tech game. Indiana has already offered. Expect Stepp to be one of the top prospects in Indiana for the Class of 2018.