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Notre Dame Football

Most Intriguing Players of 2019 | No. 6 | WR Javon McKinley

July 30, 2019

We are looking at 10 players who hold the most intrigue on the roster as fall camp is just under a month away. They might not be the star of the team, but they could be a younger prospect oozing with potential or an older guy who has patiently waited for their time to come. 

These are 10 players who I will be paying close attention to as camp starts, but also the first few games of the season to see if they break into the rotation or what Brian Kelly’s plan of attack for them is in 2019. 

Most Intriguing Players of 2019 | No. 10 | OL Aaron Banks

Most Intriguing Players of 2019 | No. 9 | S Jalen Elliott

Most Intriguing Players of 2019 | No. 8 | LB Jordan Genmark Heath

Most Intriguing Players of 2019 | No. 7 | DL Jayson & Justin Ademilola

This might be a surprise to some, but I’m going with senior receiver Javon McKinley at No. 6. 

The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder has been in the spotlight for unfortunate reasons during his time at Notre Dame. As a freshman, McKinley broke his fibula at the end of October and proceeded to essentially sit out the 2017 season as he didn’t make an appearance. 

In 2018, McKinley played in four games and then was arrested in February. 

However, the California native seems to be working his way back into good graces as there is growing sense around the program McKinley has matured since his arrest. 

In fact, one source told us McKinley was impressing behind closed doors during spring practice. 

INTEL | Austin, Finke, Keys, Kmet, McKinley

“This spring before his groin or hamstring, he came in and didn’t even look like the old Javon,” explained the source. “Javon’s issue was the fact he was so damn stiff. Whatever he did during the offseason, he worked on his hip mobility, he stopped drinking on the weekends or whatever. Javon impressed a lot of the coaches early on. 

“He didn’t look or play like the same guy. He was a different player. Javon is like Kevin (Austin). He’s an example of the route Kevin can go down if he chooses not to grow up. Javon has a shot, but I’m just not sure where he’ll find his role in the offense.” 

McKinley will enter fall camp with two years of eligibility left and it’s do or die time for his Notre Dame career. In three seasons in South Bend, McKinley hasn’t registered a reception, which is somewhat surprising as he had prolific career high school career. 

Remember the four-star prospect who recorded 174 receptions for 3,596 yards and 38 touchdowns in three seasons at Centennial High School? 

Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly would also like to see a version of the prep version of McKinley on the field this fall, but the jury was still out after the spring. 

“We’re clearly trying to figure out what he can do,” Kelly said following the spring game. “He’s been here too long for us to have a question mark about him.” 

Now, McKinley might not have a reception in the blue and gold, but only five receivers on the team have made a reception in a game. (Chase Claypool, Chris Finke, Michael Young Jr., and Kevin Austin Jr.) 

McKinley will have a chance to earn playing time as Austin is the wildcard and it remains to be seen if he can work his way out of dog house. If Austin can’t work his way on the field, I would imagine McKinley would battle sophomore Joe Wilkins Jr. for time behind Chase Claypool. 

Can McKinley build on his momentum from a second chance? We’ll see, but if he can, it could give Notre Dame an unexpected weapon on the outside and a potentially good ending for everyone involved. 

And there is hope as McKinley ended Matt Balis’ summer conditioning program in the “Starving” category. 

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