Notre Dame WR target Javon McKinley has decision made

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

SAN ANTONIO — Javon McKinley knows. The coaching staffs recruiting him know. And most reporters who cover recruiting think they know.

But until the 6-foot-2, 194-pound wide receiver announces his commitment at Saturday’s U.S. Army All-American Bowl, he’s doing his best to keep his decision a secret.

“It was very difficult,” McKinley said of the commitment decision he already has made. “I was going between colleges for a very long time. Finally, I decided the college that I’m picking would be the best for me.”

The four-star recruit carefully chooses his words when describing the school he plans to sign with in February. He admits it will be one of three schools: Notre Dame, Washington or Oregon. He already has informed them of his decision.

McKinley has positive statements to say about each school at the ready.

Of Notre Dame: “It’s a great school, of course. Early opportunity at starting. Great tradition. They’ve done a lot of successful things in the past and especially this season. I think they have what it takes to get to the next level.”

Of Washington: “Similar thing. A similar opportunity for early playing time. I really like the setting at Washington. Seattle’s a really beautiful city. I really enjoy it there. I like the setting of the water as well. Also a great coaching staff.”

Of Oregon: “It’s the most similar offense to me. It’s a good opportunity for me starting. I’d adapt to that most easily because of the spread they run more often. They also have a great coaching staff that’s been there for many years. I think they’re going to stay there for many years to come.”

After that performance, McKinley might want to consider a career as a poker player. He did a good job at not showing his hand.

But when McKinley, a senior at Corona (Calif.) Centennial, was asked about South Bend and the three visits he’s made to Notre Dame, that’s where McKinley toed the line of revealing his decision.

“I love it,” McKinley said. “I know a lot of guys say there’s not much out there. I see that there’s not much out there, but you’re not out there just to go have fun. You’re there to get business done and get your education. That’s what I’m going to … do when I go to college.”

Right between "to" and "do," McKinley paused. It was as if he realized mid-sentence that he was about to say “That’s what I’m going to do when I go there.” But he didn’t. He finished the statement with ambiguity. Mission accomplished.

Many believe McKinley will indeed pick Notre Dame on Saturday. His relationship with Notre Dame’s coaching staff is chief among those reasons. Irish offensive coordinator Mike Sanford has helped lead his recruitment.

“He’s a real adaptive guy,” McKinley said. “He really gets into the lingo with the younger guys around this age. He does a really good job recruiting.”

And with Will Fuller leaving Notre Dame for the NFL Draft, in addition to wide receivers Amir Carlisle and Chris Brown exhausting their eligibility, the Irish will be looking for reinforcements next fall. The roster has apparent replacements, but McKinley may be as good a candidate as any the Irish have.

McKinley can play multiple wide receiver positions. He spent Monday’s practice taking reps as the inside and outside receiver in different sets.

Rivals ranks McKinley as the No. 12 wide receiver in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him No. 17. McKinley possesses the speed to be a deep threat and the size to be a possession receiver. In his last two seasons at Centennial, McKinley caught 152 passes for 3,235 yard and 37 touchdowns.

“Will Fuller is a big example that you have to be a quick, explosive guy in order to go to Notre Dame,” McKinley said. “They’re definitely filling a big spot where he’s leaving.”

Will McKinley try to fill that void? Only time will tell.

And that time will be Saturday on NBC when McKinley tells the world the decision he settled on in late December.

“I knew it was time. I spent a long time to figure it out,” McKinley said. “The reason I picked that school was I think it best fits me overall and the person I am. What they can do for me, I think the school I picked will do the most.”

tjames@ndinsider.com

574-235-6214

Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Four-star wide receiver Javon McKinley announced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame during the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Army All-American Bowl.)