Louisville Lineman Claims No Favorite As Of Yet

After a trip to Oklahoma this weekend, James McKinney will take a break from making official visits and begin to prepare mentally to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl game on Jan. 15. After that game he'll take one more visit and then make a final decision shortly after. Ohio State is one of the two schools he's considering for that final visit.

Regarded by many as one of the nation's top defensive lineman, James McKinney of Louisville Central High School, is likely to be a candidate to make a signing day decision when it comes to him naming the college of his choice.

"Things are going pretty going pretty good. I've got three visits down and two to go," said McKinney earlier in the week. "I have Oklahoma coming up this weekend."

Nebraska, Clemson and Michigan are the three universities that he's been to thus far.

"My first visit was to Nebraska. I had a wonderful visit there and I got a chance to meet some great people," McKinney said. "It's a great football atmosphere in a football state. People take pride in the Huskers, that's the only thing they got in Nebraska.

"My second visit was to Clemson. It was a similar situation. I met some great coaches and spent time with their D-line coach. Coach (Ron) West is good guy. I hung with my partner Justin Miller. I had a good time with him. He showed me the ropes around the city. I enjoyed myself.

"My next visit was to Michigan. I've been up to Michigan several times, usually on game day. It's a lot of fun on game day. This time I came up on finals week and there wasn't too much happening. The city was shut down, I guess due to finals and stuff and people studying. There wasn't too much stuff to do. But I enjoyed talking with the coaches and the staff and the players."

Overall, McKinney said his visit to Michigan wouldn't have any negative impact in his final decision.

"Any city in any college campus would be kind of dull during finals week. I don't think nothing of it. Kids are studying, everyone's got to study," he said. "I ain't no big partyer myself anyway, but it was just boring. It was a boring place to be I ain't going to lie. Everybody's studying and I'm on a visit and I'm a recruit and I ain't doing no work or nothing, I'm going to be bored too. Everybody is busy. It was boring, I ain't going to lie."

Reportedly, McKinney has had an affinity for Michigan for some time now.

"I have a lot of family in Michigan and I got a cousin on the team, Grant Mason," he said. "I grew up watching Charles Woodson, he was one of my favorite players in college. I liked Charles Woodson but I wasn't no Michigan fan per say. But I enjoyed their camp when I went up there for their camp.

"And they offered me my first scholarship in the summer before my junior year. So I went to a few games up there and it was an overwhelming experience. I went to the Notre Dame and Ohio State games. I went to some good games there and that's what got me."

McKinney was in Columbus this year on an unofficial visit to see the Michigan-Ohio State game.

"That was a good game," he said. "I really enjoyed it."

Was that performance by the Buckeyes against the Wolverines enough to get McKinney to go on an official visit to Ohio State. Are the Buckeyes in line for that final visit?

"I was definitely going to take a visit to Ohio State but I'm going to wait and see," said McKinney who has an open visit still left on the Jan. 21 weekend. "I'm going to wait and see what the situation is with Ohio State. If they get put on probation then I won't take a visit there.

"Before the Clarett thing it was definitely going to be Ohio State for a visit. But now I'm going to wait and see. Hopefully I'll know and everything will be said and done by the time the U.S. Army All-American game comes. I'll definitely know who is going to be my fifth visit by then. I'm going to wait and play it out and see if the NCAA finds out anything. If the NCAA is not going to put them on probation then I'll definitely take a visit but if they get put on probation then likely I won't take a visit."

But Florida has now emerged "big time" and McKinney has a possible interest in taking a visit there.

"One of my favorite D-line coaches, Greg Mattison, he's the defensive coordinator and D-line coach at Florida now," McKinney said. "He called me, him and Coach (Urban) Meyer talked to me (and they were supposed to have visited his school Thursday). He's a great guy (Mattison) and he taught me a lot of stuff that helped me in my junior year. He taught me a lot at Notre Dame during their summer camp. I learned a lot of stuff from him, a lot of technique and a lot of moves."

After his Oklahoma visit this weekend, McKinney will spend some quality time with his family over the holiday season. It looks as if he won't be taking an official visit to Louisville, whose campus is just two minutes from where he lives, but McKinney said that they remain in the running for his services. It would certainly be important to the fans of the Cardinals to keep one of the country's top recruits at home but McKinney isn't necessarily feeling that vibe.

"It would be important if they were trying to do everything they could to keep me there but that's not the case," he said. "It's a good program but I wouldn't say that they're my leader or that they have any advantage over any of the other schools. It is the home-town school and everything else but it's my decision."

Whatever school he attends, the 6-3, 260-pound McKinney thinks his best position is as an end on the defensive line, although some have projected him to play inside at tackle.

"I like to play defensive end, a seven-technique," he said. "I'm getting recruited as a defensive end or an outside linebacker in a 34 defense. A defensive end in a 43 defense."

And he can run well for a guy his size.

"Of course I can run, come on," McKinney said. "They wouldn't play me on the edge if I couldn't run. That's one of my biggest attributes with my size. The coaches love my speed and my agility on the edge for my size. That's why all the schools are putting me at defensive end because they know I've got some speed on the outside. A lot of schools have compared me to a Trevor Price or a Marcus Spears of LSU."

Those comparisons definitely tend to motivate McKinney to work harder.

"I just try to be myself though. My game is unique," he said. "I knew Marcus Spears in high school. He was one of my cousin's best friends and they played on the same AAU basketball team. He was one of my idols to be honest with you. For his size he played basketball too. He was like a shooting guard in basketball. He was like the Incredible Hulk running down the court. He was one of my idols growing up."

McKinney played hoops for his high school team in his first three years at Central but chose to sit out his senior season on the hardwood.

"I'm going to do a lot of weight training and running this year," he said. "That's what I'm doing now."

Nebraska is one school that really made a big impression on him thus far.

"I like Nebraska," McKinney said. "I really like the people and the coaches and I didn't feel like I was being pressured or being forced to make a commitment or being forced to decide. They were being straight up with me. They brought me into their homes to meet their kids and wives and family. I talked with their AD and the president of the university. That was the only school that I had the opportunity to do that with. That was a big honor."

But does McKinney have a leader at this point?

"I don't have no solid leader," he said. "I'm going to take these visits and then I'm going to take a look at everything and see what's up."

And his thoughts about the Buckeyes?

"I like O-State. Until recently I had family right downtown in Columbus and I spent time with them when I was up there," McKinney said. "They're football crazy up there. The fans are wild and they enjoy the Buckeyes."

And McKinney has gotten to know Jamario O'Neal well. The two met in San Antonio at the junior combine last year and have stayed in touch mainly over the telephone since.

"I met up with him on a couple of unofficial visits and seen him at a few camps," McKinney said. "I've seen him around and hung out with him a few times. He's a cool guy."

After McKinney plays in the Army All-American Bowl in January, he'll go on a final visit the following weekend after the game and then he'll start to think about picking a favorite.

"We'll sit down for about a week and I'll shut everything down so I can get my thought process together," he said. "Hopefully I'll make my decision if not before signing day - a couple days before that, then on signing day."

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