Four-star WR Javon McKinley commits to Notre Dame

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

The secret is finally out.

Wide receiver Javon McKinley, who made his college decision nearly two weeks ago, finally announced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame Saturday during the fourth quarter of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He chose the Irish over finalists Oregon and Washington.

"Finally, the school I'll be attending for the next four years is the University of Notre Dame," McKinley said on the NBC broadcast during a break in the game, a 37-9 rout for McKinley's West team at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

The 6-foot-2, 194-pound senior slid on a Notre Dame hat to cap his commitment.

McKinley visited Notre Dame three times in the past year. Over the course of his visits, he started to sense at fit with the Irish.

“It’s a great school, of course,” McKinley said earlier in the week. “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.”

McKinley’s last trip to South Bend revolved around the USC game in mid-October. The four-star prospect, who became Notre Dame’s 22nd commitment in the 2016 class, is the sixth recruit to pledge Irish following a visit that weekend. Linebacker Daelin Hayes, defensive end Khalid Kareem, safety Devin Studstill, cornerback Troy Pride Jr. and running back Deon McIntosh also visited for Notre Dame’s 41-31 victory over the Trojans.

“This is probably their most successful USC game in 20 years with six guys committed,” said CBS Sports Network recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. “These are good guys, too. It’s not like they’re getting B-list guys.”

McKinley finished his high school career at Corona (Calif.) Centennial with two prolific seasons. He caught 152 passes for 3,235 yard and 37 touchdowns as a junior and senior combined.

In the second quarter of the Army Bowl on Saturday, McKinley caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ole Miss quarterback commit Shea Patterson for the West team. He added a seven-yard reception before halftime.

Notre Dame's 2016 class now includes three receivers, with McKinley joining Chase Claypool and early enrollee Kevin Stepherson.

Rivals ranks McKinley as the No. 12 wide receiver and No. 59 prospect overall in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him 17th at the position and No. 117 overall. Lemming pegs McKinley at No. 52 regardless of position.

“I love him,” Lemming said. “He’s one of the premier wide receivers in the country. He’s a real good addition, since they’re losing Will Fuller. He can run. He’s not as fast as Fuller, but he’s fast.

"He has good size, great hands and concentration. He can create after the catch. Notre Dame doesn’t have many guys that can create after the catch.”

McKinley took note of Fuller’s success at Notre Dame and the opportunity this coming season for someone to fill the void left by three starting receivers ending their careers.

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

McKinley won’t necessarily be pegged to play the same position as Fuller in Notre Dame’s spread offense. He could play to the wide side of the field, to the boundary, or in the slot.

“He can do it all,” Lemming said. “He’s very athletic. He had a great junior year and really good senior year, too. When I saw his junior film, I thought right away that he was four-plus stars guy, possibly even a five-star guy.”

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Wide receiver Javon McKinley announced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. (AP Photo/Darren Abate)
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.)