It would come as no surprise if the California coaching staff wanted to keep jumbo athlete Takkarist McKinley under the radar after seeing him excel at the program's full-contact camp in mid-June. Even at 6-foot-3, 235 pounds, the Richmond (Calif.) John F. Kennedy defender is also one of the fastest runners in the state, clocking a personal-best 10.52-second 100m time in the state semifinals.
During the one-month interim, McKinley received a scholarship offer and finally decided that Berkeley was indeed the place for him. On Thursday afternoon, he called recruiting coordinator and linebackers coach Kenwick Thompson to say just that.
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"I talked to coach Thompson last night, and he wanted me to commit to Cal," McKinley said. "I talked to my uncle about it, my coach, and I'm doing it. I'm committed."
Academics turned out to be a deciding factor for McKinley, as well as faith in the coaching staff.
"I believe in everything that coach Thompson and coach [Jeff] Tedford tell me. They really do believe in me," McKinley said.
Bears were the first and only team to offer McKinley (despite hard pushes in the last week by Nevada and Fresno State[)thereby assuming a big risk. McKinley has the skills and the ability, but it will be up to him to decide if he wants to take full advantage.
"I'll put the hard work in," McKinley said. "I was really excited. I thanked them when they offered me, because I didn't expect it. I was really excited."
McKinley's commitment punctuates a big week for Cal football recruiting, as the Bears hosted four-star defensive back L.J. Moore in a last-minute trip on Tuesday, and three-star tailback Terrell Newby on Wednesday. On Friday, offensive tackle Sean Harlow will be in the house, along with Oak Park (Calif.) defensive end Luca Bruno. Three-star offensive lineman J.D. Hinnant will finish things off with a trip to Berkeley on Sunday.
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McKinley's commitment is the second in this class from a linebacker. Though he plays a flex position for the Eagles similar to Cal's OLB/DE hybrid Predator, he'll be standing up to play outside linebacker for the Bears.