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Javon McKinley deserves notice in a dazzling class of wide receivers

Eric Sondheimer
Contact ReporterVarsity Times Insider

If there's one certainty about the high school football season that begins next week, it's that the strongest position in Southern California is wide receiver.

There are so many talented playmakers and potential future college standouts that defensive backs will be facing some nightmare scenarios trying to stop them.

No one presents more problems than Javon McKinley, a 6-foot-2, 203-pound senior from Corona Centennial High who put together a remarkable string of performances during last year's Pac-5 Division playoffs.

"Who he was doing it against is what was great," Coach Matt Logan said. "It was off the charts."

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His rise to prominence began when he caught 14 passes for 240 yards and four touchdowns in a 68-64 playoff win over Gardena Serra. Then came six catches for 187 yards and one touchdown against Santa Ana Mater Dei and 11 catches for 282 yards and three touchdowns against La Puente Bishop Amat.

In the Pac-5 final against Bellflower St. John Bosco, he caught 13 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. In the CIF state championship Open Division bowl game against Concord De La Salle, he caught six passes for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

"I was really zoned in," McKinley said. "After each game, I wanted to get better. I wasn't satisfied with my performance."

For whatever reason, there was talk early in the season that McKinley wasn't very fast.

"I don't know where that came from," Logan said. "That's never been the case. He's run away from Bishop Gorman and De La Salle players."

McKinley has also run over his share of defenders. His ability to pick up yards after making a catch is what separates him from many receivers.

"The receiver coach is always saying, 'As soon as you catch the ball, get upfield,' and that's what I do," McKinley said. "Sometimes you make a move, but I like to power through guys. I say it feels better. You're more in control of the game. You're dominating your opponent."

There's much to like about McKinley, who has a 4.1 grade-point average and had received recruiting letters from UCLA, Notre Dame, Michigan and Harvard. He wasn't a standout until his junior year, and that has prepared him for the future.

"It took a long time for me to develop as a football player," he said. "It was really an eye-opener that I had a long ways to go and there were better people out there and I have to get on their level to compete. I know going to college, it's going to be the same thing."

Logan said McKinley's junior season was about a gifted athlete's finally believing in himself.

"It was a situation where a kid grew in confidence and completely developed as the season went on," he said.

McKinley finished with 97 receptions for 2,062 yards and 25 touchdowns.

There's going to be great competition this season at the receiver position. Bishop Amat has Tyler Vaughns and Trevon Sidney, a USC commit. Westlake has the heavily recruited Theo Howard. Santa Margarita has Dylan Crawford. Westlake Village Oaks Christian has Michael Pittman, a USC commit. West Hills Chaminade has Dymond Lee, a UCLA commit.

But it remains to be seen if any can match the combination of size, speed, power, strength and agility displayed by McKinley, who appears ready to put up more staggering numbers in his senior year.

"I'm going to work harder, train harder," he said.

Follow Eric Sondheimer on Twitter @LATSondheimer

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