Film study: Notre Dame WR signee Javon McKinley

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

WR Javon McKinley, 6-2, 194; Corona (Calif.) Centennial.

The numbers: McKinley caught 57 passes for 1,173 yards and 13 touchdowns as a senior at Centennial. He also threw two passes for 130 yards and 2 TDs. The Huskies (14-1) lost in the CIF Open Division state championship game.

The rankings: Rivals – Four stars, No. 11 wide receiver. 247Sports – Four stars, No. 12 wide receiver.


Vs. Salt Lake City East

Vs. Roosevelt

Vs. Norco

First impression: McKinley is a dependable possession receiver who has a tendency of making big plays. He doesn’t have blazing speed, but his combination of size, route-running and hands make him a tough cover. McKinley could be one of the rare freshman wide receivers to see significant action in Brian Kelly’s offense at Notre Dame.

Strengths: McKinley can do a little bit of everything. He can get you a third-down conversion with a tough catch in traffic. He can also turn a deep route into a touchdown with relative ease. He’s rarely fazed by defenders when trying to haul in a pass. He’s able to create initial separation with sharp cuts in his route. With the ball in his hands, McKinley has a knack for picking up extra yardage after the catch. McKinley has also shown an ability to break long returns on kickoffs.

He did what? (Salt Lake City East :05) McKinley catches a short screen pass in a congested area. He allows his blocker to take care of one defender and appears to be cornered by a pair of defenders but surges past them in his sprint. He’s left with one defensive back to beat and he ditches him with a strong stiff arm … (Roosevelt :01) This clip’s a double dip with a pair of touchdowns on fade passes for McKinley. On the first, he sets up the cornerback on the inside and redirects for the back-shoulder catch right as the ball arrives. He does nearly the same thing on the second touchdown but with an earlier turn to spot the ball … (Norco :01) McKinley finds an extra gear to return a kick for a touchdown. As he crosses the 50-yard line, four opposing players appear to be in a position to track him down, but he manages to zoom out of range for the score.

Competition level: Centennial finished the season as one of the top-ranked teams in the country. A win in the state championship game may have given them the national title from multiple outlets. That standing came in part because of the tough schedule it played in California including five of the top 15 teams in the state according to MaxPreps. The opponents included traditional powerhouse programs like Gardena Serra, Mater Dei, St. John Bosco and De La Salle. All of those teams are loaded with FBS-level players. McKinley saw his share of talented defensive backs in games and on his own practice field.

Left to prove: One step could be the difference in McKinley being a solid player and a star at Notre Dame. His floor seems to be relatively high with his history of production and reliability as a receiver. But his ceiling might be determined by his speed. McKinley could kick it into a different gear to outrun high school defenders, but he’ll need to be even faster in college. It doesn’t have to be his biggest strength, but it will make him a better deep threat. His quickness at the line of scrimmage will need to improve to help him continue to create separation from defenders.

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.)