Drew White To Undergo Surgery; Javon McKinley Reinstated By Notre Dame
Notre Dame’s fifth practice this spring, held Thursday morning, featured two main news items with personnel.
It was revealed that junior linebacker Drew White will undergo surgery Friday (March 22) because of a separation of his right AC joint that did not stem from any football activity. The procedure will sideline him a projected four months, and is similar to what shelved current senior receiver Chase Claypool from the 2018 Citrus Bowl win versus LSU. Junior tight end Brock Wright also had similar surgery last year.
Meanwhile, senior wide receiver Javon McKinley was seen suited up at the open practice. He was not at the initial open practice (March 2), when head coach Brian Kelly revealed that McKinley was on a team suspension for a Feb. 11 arrest involving an alleged altercation with two Notre Dame Security personnel.
One of the most wide open position battles is at linebacker following the graduation of stalwarts Te’von Coney at Mike and Drue Tranquill at Buck. The duo combined to take 89.7 percent of the snaps the defense had last year.
The six-foot, 225-pound White was vying with senior Jonathan Jones and sophomore Bo Bauer for the starting role at Mike. His shining moment came last season in the 44-22 victory versus Navy when he replaced the injured Tranquill and was credited with six tackles. Of his 58 snaps taken, 54 came against the Midshipmen. Jones totaled 46 snaps last season and Bauer 19.
During Thursday’s practice, there was multiple mixing and matching at linebacker, as promised by defensive coordinator Clark Lea. Earlier this spring Lea stated that he does not anticipate anything to be finalized at linebacker when spring drills end with the April 13 Blue-Gold Game. This session included seeing fifth-year senior Asmar Bilal also take a few reps at Mike, although he is also competing with junior Jordan Genmark Heath and sophomore Jack Lamb at Buck.
Bilal started 10 games at rover last season, but like Tranquill in 2018, he has been shifted to Buck to provide some playing experience there.
McKinley did not participate in any of the drills, and was involved in a discussion off to the side with Kelly for about a half hour. Although he is listed in good standing with the school and now allowed to participate in extracurricular activates such as football, there are numerous benchmarks — which often involve academics, citizenship, service, etc. — he must achieve through spring practice and at least the end of the spring semester in May. How McKinley meets those criteria will be re-evaluated at the end of the spring semester to determine whether he will be fully reinstated with the team.
McKinley saw action primarily on special teams as a 2016 freshman before breaking his fibula in practice midway through the season that slowed him enough to take a medical redshirt in 2017. He finished with only five snaps as a junior last season and has yet to catch a pass during his college career.