“Dreams come true, it does not matter where you come from or how you started. It’s only about how you finish. And I’m just getting started,” were the exact words of Falcon’s defensive ending as Takkarist Mckinley told the story of how courage and determination are the keys to making dreams come true after the franchise drafted him in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft.
For the native Californian, the leap into the NFL was not only a dream come true but also a promise kept. Watching his grandmother Myrtle Collins on her deathbed in 2011 after several strokes, Mckinley gave her a promise he was determined to keep, even if it was the last thing he did, to build a life far away from the harsh environment in which he was born and raised, play football at a Division 1 school and eventually make it into the NFL.
Takkarist Mckinley walked onto the stage with a huge framed photograph of his late grandmother on Thursday night April 28, 2017, after the Atlantic Falcons voted him 26th overall in the first round of the NFL Draft. He is proud that he has fulfilled a promise to a dying woman and that his dearest grandmother will also be proud of him, wherever she may be.
Takkarist Mckinley – Biography
McKinley was born on the 2nd day of November 2, 1995, in Oakland, California, as Takkarist Jaune McKinley. He never got to know his father and mother Tedgela Mitchell, who left him when he was just five years old, reappeared when he was seventeen, and disappeared again.
Takkarist was raised by his grandmother, Myrtle Collins, who collected water bottles and cans on the streets in the Northern California neighborhood to pay her bills and feed herself and her grandson.
McKinley attended Kennedy High School in Richmond, California, where he played for the school’s soccer team. As a junior, he picked up fifty sacks and sixty tackles and as a senior, he made eleven sacks. He also participated in track events.
He originally signed up at the University of California at Berkeley, but he was unable to qualify academically and had to choose a community college, Contra Costa College. During his one season at Contra Costa College, he picked up 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 as a player with the UCLA Bruins.
He promised himself that he would play exclusively on defense and lead the nation in sacks, but that didn’t seem to be the case. His first two seasons with the Bruins were not nearly spectacular, as he spent most of his time on the inside of the defensive line and only picked up seven sacks.
In his junior season (2015) Takkarist Mckinley played thirteen games and started twelve, his record this year was thirty-five tackles and 3.5 sacks, and his senior season ended with ten sacks.
After his graduation season, he received an invitation to join the NFL Combine as an outside linebacker. Except for the Short Shuttle and the three-cone drill, Takkarist completed all of his exercises at the Combine. After the Combine, he underwent surgery to repair a fracture and labrum tear in his glenoid cavity. Due to the surgery, he was unable to attend UCLA Pro Day.
McKinley was ranked second-best outside linebacker in the draft by Bucky Brooks (NFL analyst), third-best by NFLDraftScout.com, fourth-best Edge Rusher by NFL analyst Mike Mayock, fifth-best Edge Rusher by Sports Illustrated, and fifth-best Defensive End by ESPN. NFL experts also expected him to be called up in the 1st or 2nd round of the draft.
The Atlanta Falcons would later conscript him in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft in April 2017 as the 26th in total. The following month he signed a 4-year contract with the franchise worth $10.21 million with $7.89 million guaranteed and a $5.57 million signing bonus.
In his rookie season, he played sixteen games with a record of twenty tackles and six sacks, earning 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 113 kg (250 lb). His arm length is 34 3/4″ and his hand size is 9 3/4″.