“Dreams come true, it doesn’t matter where you come from, or how you started. It’s all about how you finish. And I’m just getting started,” those were the exact words of Falcon’s defensive end, Takkarist Mckinley as he told the story of how courage and determination are key to bringing dreams to pass after the franchise drafted him in the 1st round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
For the California native, making it to the NFL was not just a dream come true but also a promise kept. Watching his grandmother Myrtle Collins lying on her deathbed back in 2011 after suffering multiple strokes, Mckinley made her one promise he was determined to keep even if it was the last thing he did, and that was to build a life away from the tough environment he was born and raised in, to play football for a Division 1 school and finally make it to the NFL.
Takkarist Mckinley walked up to the stage that Thursday night of April 28th, 2017 with a huge, framed photograph of his late grandmother, after Atlantic Falcons selected him 26th overall in the first round of the NFL Draft, proud he has fulfilled a promise to a dying woman and that his dearest granny will also be proud of him where ever she is.
Takkarist Mckinley – Biography
McKinley was born in Oakland, California on the 2nd day of November 2, 1995, as
Takkarist Jaune McKinley. He never got to know his father and his mother Tedgela Mitchell, abandoned him when he was just 5 years old, reappeared when he was seventeen, and vanished again.
Takkarist was raised by his grandmother Myrtle Collins who mined the street of the Northern California neighborhood collecting water bottles and cans to pay her bills and support herself and her grandson.
Mckinley attended Kennedy High School, Richmond, California, where he played for the school’s football team. As a junior, he recorded fifty sacks, sixty tackles and as a senior, he made eleven sacks. He also participated in tracks events.
He originally committed to the University of California, Berkeley but he didn’t qualify academically and had to opt for a community college, Contra Costa College. During his one season at Contra Costa College, he recorded thirty-three tackles and ten sacks. The next season (2014), he transferred to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), where he began his college career playing with the UCLA Bruins.
He made a promise to himself to play exclusively at the defensive end and lead the nation in sacks but that didn’t seem to be the case, as his first two seasons with the Bruins was nothing near spectacular as he spent most of his time along with the interior of the defensive line, recording only seven sacks.
During his junior season (2015), Takkarist Mckinley played thirteen games and started twelve, his record that year was thirty-five tackles and 3.5 sacks and his senior season ended with ten sacks.
After his senior season, he received an invitation to the NFL Combine as an outside linebacker. Aside from the short shuttle and the three-cone drill, Takkarist completed all his drills at the combine. After the combine, he underwent surgery to fix a fracture and a torn labrum in his shoulder socket. Due to the surgery, he was unable to attend UCLA’s Pro Day.
McKinley was ranked the 2nd best outside linebacker in the draft by Bucky Brooks (NFL analyst), 3rd best by NFLDraftScout.com, 4th best edge rusher by NFL analyst Mike Mayock, 5th best edge rusher by Sports Illustrated, and 5th best defensive end by ESPN. NFL experts also projected him to be drafted in the 1st or 2nd round of the Draft.
The Atlanta Falcons would later draft him as the 26th overall in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft in April 2017. The following month, he signed a 4-year contract with the franchise worth $10.21 million with $7.89 million guaranteed and $5.57 million as a signing bonus.
He played sixteen games in his rookie season with a record of twenty tackles and six sacks, which was good enough to earn him the 4th best rookie in the league and the 2nd best on the team after Adrian Clayborn.
His Height, Weight, and Body Measurements
The defensive end stands at the height of 6″ 2 in (1.88 m) and weighs 250 lb (113 kg). His arm length is 34 3/4″ and his hand size is 9 3/4″.