Army Preview: Kelly, McKinley lead West

Five-star linebacker Caleb Kelly and four-star receiver Javon McKinley headline the West at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl for Notre Dame. Can the Irish close with both top talents?

All eyes in the college football recruiting world will shift to San Antonio this week as U.S. Army All-American Bowl week begins.

Notre Dame will again be well represented with four commitments along with several targets, including one set to announce during the game broadcast. Three of those prospects will call the West team their squad.

Irish Illustrated takes a look at the names and storylines to know on the West.

Hometown: Ann Arbor, Mich.
Position: Outside linebacker
Scout300 ranking: 222
Position ranking: 14

News and notes: Unfortunately, Hayes won’t participate in practice or the game while continuing to recover from November shoulder surgery. Hayes missed most of his final high school season with that injury. He will instead serve as a de facto ambassador and recruiter for Notre Dame after arriving later in the week. Hayes enrolls for the second semester to begin his college career and expects to be healthy for spring practice.

Quotable: “It’s a dream come true, honestly. I set that goal back when I was in like ninth grade. To finally have done it, it was awesome. I got invited like my sophomore year. But to finally get to go ahead and do it, you know, it’s kind of a bittersweet thing since I can’t play. But it’ll be fun to get down.” - Hayes

Hometown: Fresno, Calif.
Position: Outside linebacker
Scout300 ranking: 17
Position ranking: 2

Recruiting recap: Kelly will arrive in San Antonio as one of the top targets remaining on the Notre Dame board. He officially visited the Irish for the postseason awards show weekend, when freshman linebacker Asmar Bilal hosted. Kelly has also taken official visits to Michigan, Oklahoma and Oregon. Oklahoma has been considered the favorite for months, although the Irish made a strong push during the visit. This one figures to be a Notre Dame-Oklahoma battle all the way to National Signing Day, at which point Kelly plans to reveal his choice.

Quotable: “Would like to see how active he is and how well he breaks down and plays in space. As he has gotten bigger over the last year, he has lost some of his quickness and fluidity. He showed this past season he can really rush the passer but I want to see him take on blockers and dominate in the run game.” - Greg Biggins, Scout.com national recruiting analyst

Hometown: Corona, Calif.
Position: Wide receiver
Scout300 ranking: 52
Position ranking: 8

Recruiting recap: McKinley is almost ready to let the world know his college destination. Official visits to Notre Dame, Oregon, Tennessee, UCLA and Washington are complete. Brian Kelly made an in-home visit shortly after the regular season. McKinley took his official visit to South Bend for the USC weekend. McKinley has been to Notre Dame multiple times — spring trip, Irish Invasion and an official visit — and that’s no small feat for a California product. He’ll announce during the game broadcast and no matter the hats on the table, look for Notre Dame to nudge Washington. McKinley is the top Irish receiver target on the board.

Quotable: “I want to see what kind of separation he can get against elite cover corners. He dominates in high school playing in a great system but some have knocked him saying it’s the system and not just his skill level. I want to see him get off press coverage and be able to turn some guys around in his route running as well.” - Biggins

Dates to know (all times Central)

Sunday, Jan. 3 - Players arrive in San Antonio

Monday, Jan. 4 - First day of practice, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.

Tuesday, Jan. 5 - Second day of practice, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 6 - No practice

Thursday, Jan. 7 - Third day of practice, 10 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Friday, Jan. 8 - U.S. Army National Combine, 7:30 a.m. - 6:00 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 9 - U.S. Army All-American Bowl, 12 p.m. (NBC)


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