A 2013 three-star recruit from Richmond (Calif.) Kennedy, he committed to Cal a week after the Golden Bears offered but failed to qualify academically. So he focused on getting his academics in check while continuing his football-playing career at Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Calif.
So, surely, the offer he received from the Longhorns on Monday isn't going to factor into his decision all that much, right?
Not so, according to McKinley.
"They have a good chance because out of high school I had signed with Cal, but came up short on the SAT by 30 points," said McKinley, who was the No. 61 DE in the country in 2013. "At that moment I didn't want to leave. I wanted to stay home and be with family. But then being in junior college and experiencing more in life, I want to open my eyes to more."
That's welcomed news to Charlie Strong and his staff, which made McKinley feel like a wanted man on Monday. The 6-foot-3, 240-pound edge rusher had heard whispers that the Longhorns were interested in him, but didn't have anything concrete to go off of until he was put in touch with UT linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary.
"I've been hearing from my assistant coaches that I've been offered by Texas but I hadn't really heard anything from Texas," he said. "I got a message from Texas' linebackers coach, Coach Brian [Jean-Mary]. We exchanged text messages and he was like ‘I just wanted to let you know you have an offer from the University of Texas. We watched your highlight film and we really want you.' So I called him right then, quick."
Shortly thereafter McKinley found himself talking with Jean-Mary, defensive line coach Chris Rumph, defensive coordinator Vance Bedford and Strong, who he spoke to "for like an hour."
"He was pretty much telling me [about] the academics, and how good they were at Texas," he said. "He talked about the environment. It is really different than California. He expects big things from me and really wants me to be a Longhorn."
"He told me at Louisville he had two of the best defensive ends in the country, Marcus Smith and Lorenzo Mauldin," McKinley said. "He told me how he developed them into two of the best players in the country, and Marcus Smith could be a first round pick.
"I'm hoping, well it I'm not hoping because it sounds like Charlie Strong has a really good coaching staff. If I do go there, not saying I will, but they are in the top three for sure. I hope I can develop into a really good pass rusher or whatever they want me to be."
McKinley said that the Texas offer immediately put the Longhorns in his top three. While he wouldn't say who the other two schools were, a look at his offers list suggests at least one will be from the West Coast.
His offers include Cal, Arizona State, Fresno State, Boise State, Washington State, Oregon State and Maryland. He has four others but couldn't remember them, and also said he was talking with USC a little.
"I don't want to commit until I take my visits," he said. "I don't think it will be anytime soon because I rushed it out of high school. I committed to Cal a week after they offered me."
McKinley said he'll have three years to play once he gets to his next destination. He fully intends on visiting Texas at some point, most likely for an official visit.