SAN ANTONIO - Adding a four-star prospect on national television makes an impression.
That’s what Notre Dame did when receiver Javon McKinley went Irish during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl this afternoon. Fellow Irish commitments have been hoping McKinley would join the fold for months. Now their faith has been rewarded.
Four-star running back Tony Jones Jr., another U.S. Army All-American, crossed paths with McKinley a few times during the recruiting process. They spent time together this week as well.
Jones sees a replacement for departing wide receivers Will Fuller and Chris Brown.
“We got a deep threat,” said Jones, who’s been committed to Notre Dame since March. “Will is gone and Chris is gone and our slot is gone, so our whole receiver corps needs to bring it back up. I think he’ll boost it up more.”
Few could be more pleased than Ian Book, a three-star quarterback. Book flipped his commitment from Washington State to Notre Dame in August. One of his first orders of business was reaching out to McKinley.
Quarterbacks always want talented pieces in their offense. Book landed one when McKinley chose to jump on board.
“Just what we need,” Book said. “He’s very good.”
How good? Few would know better than D.J. Morgan, a three-star safety commitment.
Morgan has known McKinley for some time. They teamed together on the B2GSports 7-on-7 team at local and national tournaments. In fact, it was a B2G trip to the Notre Dame campus back in the spring that first opened each of their eyes to the program.
They also faced each other during the high school season when McKinley’s Centennial High squad handed Morgan and St. John Bosco a 62-52 loss in the playoffs.
“Javon has great hands,” Morgan said. “He catches everything. He runs really good routes as well. Adding him to the class (is) huge for us.”
McKinley gives Notre Dame renewed momentum down the final stretch to National Signing Day as well.
Four-star linebacker Daelin Hayes, three-star safety Devin Studstill and three-star cornerback Troy Pride Jr. all gave verbal commitments in December. McKinley marks a first in January, nicely positioned toward the end of the dead period.
Irish coaches will hit the road for in-home visits later this month and continue to host official visitors before the first week of February. Adding another high profile player doesn’t hurt perception.
“Obviously, there’s a couple other big names we’re trying to get,” said long snapper commitment John Shannon. “I think as of right now we’ve got a pretty good, pretty strong class. But I think adding a couple more stronger pieces would make it one of the best in the country.”