The legend of Takkarist “Takk” McKinley began his sophomore year. That’s when Kennedy High’s track coach, Carl Sumler, saw the young Eagles defensive end rush a Piedmont High quarterback, turn around, race 15 yards up field and catch a wide receiver trying to break loose with the ball.
But that’s not what impressed Sumler the most about McKinley’s great hustle play. What impressed Sumler the most was McKinley outran Kenneth Walker, Kennedy High’s former number one state track hurdler and a UCLA football commit, to make the tackle. “I know Kenneth is fast, so when I saw [McKinley] run I was like ‘Oh, this guy’s got speed,'” he said.
And nearly every school in the Pac-12 saw it, too. McKinley said after last year’s success running the 100 and 200-meter dash, and anchoring the 4×100 and 4×400 meter relay races, the California Golden Bears football program offered him a full-ride scholarship. And on February 6, McKinley officially signed his letter of intent to attend Cal.
McKinley said he chose Cal over Oregon, the University of Southern California, Arizona State, Washington, and Washington State because of its proximity to home. “I’m the type of person that really needs family,” he said this week while waiting for track practice to begin. “Plus Cal is one of the best schools for academics. If I get a degree from Cal my life is pretty much set.”
McKinley said he’s uncertain what he wants to study and will enter the academic year as an undeclared freshman.
Former Kennedy head football coach Mark Carminer said in a phone interview the 6’3″, 240 pound linebacker with 10.5-speed in the hundred was light hearted and made coaching fun. Carminer coached McKinley for four years and said the young Eagle loved to compete and loved to win. “Every day is a new day with Takk,” he said. “He made the whole team laugh. But when he got onto the field he was a monster.”
McKinley said with Cal’s recent coaching change he’s not sure how the Golden Bears will use him. “The old coaching staff ran a 3-4,” he said describing the type of defense he played in high school. “They also said I had the speed to guard people like receivers and tight ends. Now with the new coaching staff I’m going to be more like a defensive end in a 3-point stance coming off the edge. Either way I’m still excited.”
McKinley will be the first person in his family to attend college, he said. “To be the first one to actually do something good is really amazing to me,” he said. “My family members say, ‘Just stay calm, keep composed, do the work and you’ll be fine.’ I’ll do good.”