Notre Dame picked up a huge commitment during the 2016 US Army All-American Bowl on Saturday when 4-star wide receiver Javon McKinley selected the Irish over Oregon and Washington. The California native had long been linked to the Irish and Saturday afternoon he became the 22nd member of the Class of 2016 and first to commitment of the new year for the Irish.
McKinley, a consensus 4-star prospect out of Corona, California, held offers from USC, UCLA, Ohio State, Florida, Miami, Arizona State, Stanford, and a host of other major division one programs on top of his finalists of Notre Dame, Oregon, and Washington before selecting the Irish during the Army All-American Bowl.
Notre Dame now has commitments from three wide receivers among its current 22 member class with McKinley joining Chase Claypool and Kevin Stephenson. With only a precious few spots left in this class, however, the Irish might not be done recruiting the position. Expect Brian Kelly and his staff to put on the full court press for fellow US Army All-American Demetris Roberston.
At 6’2″, 195 lbs, McKinley will report to campus built to play early if he can pick up the offense which is good news for a team that will be ushering in three new starters in 2016 after losing Will Fuller to the NFL and Amir Carlisle and Chris Brown to graduation. McKinley is an outside receiver and will battle with Corey Robinson, Miles Boykin, Equanimeos St Brown, Corey Holmes, and fellow incoming freshman Claypool and Stephenson for one of the starting roles vacated by Fuller and Brown.
McKinley hauled in 56 passes for 1,173 yards (20.9 ypc) and 13 touchdowns in 2015. It was McKinley’s junior season, however, that put him on the map and moved him into the Top 100 list from multiple recruiting services. He caught 91 passes for 1,906 yards with 20 touchdowns as a junior.
McKinley is a complete wide receiver who has been tearing it up all week in San Antonio. Word around the Army Bowl practices has been that McKinley has simply caught everything thrown his way. Hands like that could give McKinley a chance for early playing time although true freshman making big contributions at wide receiver have been rare under Brian Kelly. At the same time, Kelly has never had to replace as much starting experience at the position in a single off-season as he will this year either.
The addition of McKinley gives Notre Dame another commitment from the visitor list from the USC weekend. After initially not receiving any commitments on the spot, the Irish have since picked up commits from McKinley, Khalid Kareem, Deon McIntosh, Devin Studstill, and Daelin Hayes. Notre Dame would love to land another commitment from that weekend’s visitor log as well – Texas 4-star linebacker Jeffrey McCulloch.
With 22 commitments in this year’s class at this point, Notre Dame’s eyes will now be on the prize so to speak with elite prospects like Caleb Kelly, McCulloch, Demetris Robertson, and Ben Davis left on the board. Kelly and his staff will be able to hone in on a few select recruits but will need to bring their A game to close strong as the Irish are currently not considered the favorites for any of them.