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College commitment: Avon's Jimmy McKenna to play football for Purdue

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    Avon senior Jimmy McKenna has committed to play football at Purdue.



Avon senior Jimmy McKenna had his choice of more than two dozen Division I football offers.

On Saturday, the 6-foot-5, 260-pound right tackle took to Twitter to announce his decision: Purdue.

McKenna had already made a couple of visits to the Boilermakers campus but it was during the most recent trip just before he committed that he decided it was the place for him.

“I loved the campus and school and I really liked the coaching staff,” McKenna said. “I know I fit in to what they’re trying to build at Purdue.”

After playing on the Avon junior varsity team as a sophomore, McKenna burst onto the scene last year. A starter from Game 1, McKenna was a key contributor on a team that went 10-0 in the regular season, won the school’s first Southwestern Conference title and averaged 38.2 points a game.

“I went from never touching the field on Friday night to starting 11 games,” McKenna said. “I never thought that I was that good and it took me by surprise. It was a lot to take in. I had 25 offers so I spent a lot of time looking at all of the schools and learning what each of them had to offer,”

McKenna is rated a three-star recruit by, which also ranks him as the No. 38 prospect in Ohio in the class of 2018 and the seventh-best offensive lineman in the state.

“Jimmy has been improving every day since he’s been here,” Avon coach Mike Elder said. “He has the size and the stature and he fits all the measurables that Division I teams are looking for.

“I’m excited for him. He started all 11 games for us last year and he did a great job. He had some good film to show the college coaches.”

McKenna has also played lacrosse at Avon but said he will now give up the sport and concentrate on football. He is the second Eagles offensive lineman to commit to a Big Ten school in as many seasons, joining Sam Gerak, who will be a freshman at Northwestern this fall.

“I just thought it was great to be around someone like Sam who was going to play at the Division I level,” McKenna said. “At the time (Gerak committed) I never thought I’d be where I am today and I have the chance to play against him in college.”

“It’s always big for our program to have someone like Jimmy go Division I,” Elder said. “Fewer than 2 percent of kids go on to a Division I school and less than 1 percent get offers like Jimmy. This shows everyone in the program that if you put in the hard work, do the right things on the field and in the classroom and have the size the colleges are looking for you will get noticed. You don’t have to go to St. Edward or St. Ignatius to get offers, you can stay in Avon and the college coaches will find you. “

With the recruiting process complete, McKenna is ready for his final year in an Eagles uniform, especially the team’s regular-season opener in Orlando, Fla., on Aug. 24 against Merritt Island (Fla.) in one of ESPN’s Kickoff Classics.

“It feels great to have committed to Purdue,” he said. “Now I’m able to breathe again and focus on football. I’m really excited for the season to almost be here. I’m looking forward to playing our first game in Florida and winning the SWC again.”

Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or

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