And so begins another round of “This Guy Plays Notre Dame Football” here on OFD. The Notre Dame Fighting Irish have a roster full of players, and we want to talk about them all. One Foot Down’s player profile series will take a look at every single one of them, and hopefully we all learn a little bit more about these guys, and Notre Dame’s chances for the upcoming 2019 season.
#88 Javon McKinley, Wide Receiver
Javon McKinley was a HUGE signing back in the class of 2016. The 6’2”, 4-star receiver out of Corona, California was an Army All-American considered to be the next great Irish wideout, having accumulated the 3rd-most receiving yards (3,752) in California Interscholastic Federation-Southern Section history and bringing a solid combination of size, hands, speed, and athleticism to South Bend.
McKinley committed to the Irish fairly late in the process, pledging to Brian Kelly’s program less than a month before signing day after entertaining offers from the likes of the Oregon Ducks, Tennessee Volunteers, Washington Huskies, Florida Gators, USC Trojans, Ohio State Buckeyes, Stanford Cardinal, Miami Hurricanes, Nebraska Cornhuskers, and many more.
He saw the field in 6 games as a freshman, but did not make any catches. He ended up breaking his leg in practice late during that season, and missed all of 2017 because of it. That injury clearly still was hampering him last year as a junior, considering McKinley played only 5 offensive snaps in the 2018 regular season and failed to crack a shallow receiver 2-deep. Still, Irish fans were hopeful that another year getting healthy and developing a bit more would allow for a senior year, and potentially a 5th year, of solid McKinley contributions at wide receiver.
Instead, McKinley’s potential and promise were set back even more so by a February arrest. The then-20-year-old McKinley was returning to campus in an Uber at around 4 am and was unresponsive, which led to campus police attempting to help him get back to his dorm. He resisted that help, attempting to go the opposite direction, and fought with/punched the two officers, leading to his arrest.
McKinley struck a plea agreement in April involving a pretrial diversion program, and all his charges will be dropped next year if he fully complies with the program.
Since the arrest, it’s been unclear precisely where McKinley stands in terms of his football prospects at ND. He was not kicked out of school or off the team, but coach Brian Kelly did say in a press conference in the spring that they were still evaluating his standing. With that said, he is at camp with the team now, so it’s unclear if he’ll be battling for playing time or if there’s no chance he sees the field anytime soon due to that February incident.
No matter what Kelly and the staff decide, McKinley didn’t earn any time on a pretty thin receiving corps in 2018, and so even if he works his way back into the coaches’ good graces, it seems unlikely he will be in any spot on the depth chart to significantly contribute in 2019. However, the talent is absolutely there, so perhaps McKinley will use the February arrest as a wakeup call to crank it all up a notch and earn himself some serious playing time.
Notre Dame snuck this clip in the Brian Kelly interview on Monday.— Matt Freeman (@mattfreemanISD) August 6, 2019
Phil Jurkovec with a deep shot to Javon McKinley. pic.twitter.com/4gEXidVJUY
Taylor Swift, Bon Jovi, or Chicago
“Livin’ On a Prayer” - Bon Jovi
Javon McKinley’s ND career is a little precarious right now, so I think it’s safe to summarize his hopes for becoming a contributing wideout for the Irish as living on a prayer.
Hey Dog HEY!
Doing our best to make sure you know which one of man’s best friends match each Notre Dame player.
Not sure I can assign a dog to Javon right now, especially considering this is WAY more appropriate for his situation with the coaches.
Here’s to hoping he earns his way out of there, keeps working hard, and finishes his Irish career super strong.
With the injury issues and the arrest and the other talent we’ve been hearing about as the people to watch at wide receiver, it seems unlikely Javon McKinley will be a huge contributor in 2019.
In the most optimistic scenario, all that promise McKinley showed as a prospect can be matched with a renewed effort from the now-senior to right the wrong of his arrest and beat out some people currently ahead of him on the depth chart, and maybe we see him provide another reliable target for Ian Book, especially if any rotation receivers go down with injury (knock on wood that they won’t!) and McKinley is needed to step in.
More likely, McKinley won’t really see time on offense, and MAYBE, if he makes the right moves, can work his way into some special teams PT. We will simply have to wait and see.
YouTube Hot Fire
If McKinley ever rights the ship and blows up, remember the talent has always been there — the dude absolutely DOMINATED top-flight California competition in high school.