Welcome to another Bagpipe Monday on One Foot Down (a triumphant return after a wee break). Friends, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish are sprinting towards a college football playoff berth, and are one of the hottest teams in the country (sexy too). So much of what we thought this team would be in 2020 back in August has proved to be pretty damn wrong.
I won’t even mention how crazy our thoughts were back in February.
What’s truly incredible is what Notre Dame is doing at wide receiver. Most people back in the winter assumed Kevin Austin, Lawrence Keys III and Braden Lenzy would be the key contributors in the passing game. Obviously, injuries have decimated that trio — and yet the Irish have found success through the air, and it seemingly gets better each week with Ian Book behind center.
It leads me back to a conversation I had with myself this summer... have you considered Javon McKinley. Before ANY of the injuries and shuffling around, I kept coming back to #88 and his improbable return to the field for a 5th year. The more and more I thought about it, the more and more my opinion of McKinley became stronger and stronger. There was just something there that had me leaning towards that “Jonas Gray” type of answer for “surprise player.”
So, during an OFD Podcast, when asked who would lead the Irish in receiving this season — I confidently said Javon McKinley. I just thought something was there that would finally show itself this season, and I was absolutely right. McKinley WANTS this so badly now, and it’s been a joy to see it unfold.
Brian Kelly has talked about Javon a few times this year, and was asked about him again on Monday:
“Javon McKinley has always been that guy that you’re hoping for him to take that next step. There were a lot of things that went into making a decision to bring him back and most of them were he was put under the microscope and challenged in a number of areas, and he passed those challenges or he wouldn’t have been invited back. He gave himself a second chance. I didn’t give him a second chance. He gave himself a second chance by his work ethic, the way he handled himself off the field, and he wanted to get this opportunity. Now with this opportunity, you got to go take advantage of it, and that’s what he’s done. He’s taken advantage of the opportunity that he earned and it’s great to see.”
In 8 games played, McKinley has 30 receptions for 549 yards. He leads the team in receptions and yards ( Michael Mayer is 2nd with 25 for 301) but hasn’t scored a touchdown this season. Compare him to Miles Boykin’s senior year in 2018, and there are a lot of similarities. In 18, Boykin had 59 receptions for 872 yards and 8 TD’s in 13 games. McKinley should get at least 4 more games in this season, and could very well pass Boykin in receptions and yards.
The touchdowns though... this offense like Kyren Williams running it in or tossing one up to Ben Skowronek, so Javon won’t see the 8. Still, it’s been a fantastic year for Javon and can still get even better. Did you ever think it was possible?
Before the season started, did you think McKinley was going to have this kind of impact?
This poll is closed
Now... the weekly “pipes” throws it back to a California classic.