4-Star McKenzie Commits To VT

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4-star tailback Shai McKenzie will take his talents to Blacksburg. The 6’0”, 215-pound senior, a product of Washington High School in Pennsylvania, announced this afternoon that he has verbally committed to Virginia Tech over Florida State, Georgia Tech, and hometown Pittsburgh. He will enroll at Tech next month.

Washington High School’s all-time leading rusher, McKenzie racked up 2,689 yards on the ground and scored 41 touchdowns in his junior season. He was off to a great start his senior year as well, rushing for 650 yards and 11 touchdowns through two full games and most of a third. He suffered a torn ACL in that third game, though, and missed the rest of the season.

“For me, a guy like Shai comes around once in a coaching lifetime,” Washington head coach Mike Bosnic said in an earlier interview with TSL. “He has that combination of speed, explosiveness, and size. He is a guy who definitely can take it in between the tackles because he has nice size and he’s strong. He possesses explosiveness that doesn’t come around often. My best memories will be watching him explode through the hole. Since the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette began keeping stats — I think it was in 1971 — he finished [the 2012 season] with the highest yards-per-carry average ever for a guy who rushed for at least a thousand yards. He was injured and it’s tough and sad, not only for Shai but for the community and the people in the area.”

McKenzie is Virginia Tech’s second big-time running back recruit in this class, joining Phoebus (Hampton, VA) product Marshawn Williams. Each player is rated as a 4-star recruit by at least one of the four national recruiting outlets (ESPN, Rivals, 247Sports, Scout). McKenzie is considered a 4-star player by three of the four (except for ESPN), while Williams is rated a 4-star by 247Sports.

Virginia Tech now has commitments from 24 high school seniors. Four of those players – QB Andrew Ford, McKenzie, DE Vinny Mihota, and Williams – are set to enroll next month.

TSL’s Take

With McKenzie and Williams (and perhaps Hopewell (VA) star Tabyus Taylor, who could play tailback but could end up at linebacker), Virginia Tech certainly has bolstered the running back position in a big way, size-wise and talent-wise. To top it off, both players are enrolling early.

In the 2014 season, Tech’s projected roster at running back now looks like this:

– JC Coleman, JR
– Joel Caleb, SO
– Trey Edmunds, SO
– Chris Mangus, SO
– Jerome Wright, SO (fullback but reportedly may get a look at tailback in the Sun Bowl)
Shai McKenzie, FR
– DJ Reid, FR
– Marshawn Williams, FR

Going through spring practice should certainly be a big benefit to McKenzie and Williams, though Williams probably has the best chance to play next season due to the fact that McKenzie is recovering from a torn ACL. Even if McKenzie isn’t ready physically next season, the Hokies have added immediate depth with Williams and are looking very strong once the 2015 season rolls around.

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26 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. Good article Chris. From the team perspective, you cannot recruit too many running backs. From the individual player’s perspective, it’s a different story. Joel Caleb expected to play, not dress; he was a big time recruit. Chris Mangus has the makings of a good back but he is just little; he can catch the ball out of the backfield but how many carries will he get with this bunch arriving? Jerome Wright was a good big back in high school, but could not beat out a walk on freshman at fullback. My point? Every one of these guys could make a bigger contribution and get more playing time at another position and would end up feeling better about their choice to attend VT. Caleb (WR), Mangus (Slot), and Wright (LB) could all contribute more at those positions than they ever will in the RB gaggle. Granted, I am making assumptions about McKenzie, Reid, and Williams but I think I am not far off in saying they have more potential as running backs than any trio we have ever had arrive at one time.

    I agree that Trey Edmunds will be a running back for his VT career given his injury and his time remaining. I agree that Edmunds/Williams will be 1-2 next year but maybe not in that order if Shane Beamer sets aside his loyalty factor. I also think Reid is the most likely to push for playing time and carries so what do you do with Coleman? If you stack up Caleb, Mangus, and Wright behind those first four, all you get is pissed off players who tell kids at their old high school that the VT coaches misrepresented their chance for playing time.

    I also think Edmunds would personally be better served and more likely to be a solid draft pick at LB but that won’t happen. He is making the same kind (sort of) of sacrifice for the team that LT made (reduce your draft position). The difference is that we are much less likely to need Edmunds at running back next year and he could get a three year shot at being a drafted LB. Given this year’s crop, would LT potentially have been the top TE chosen?

    1. So now we all are ready to sh!t on Tre because a 4 star recruit rehabbing from a torn ACL committed you guys kill me, after the Alabama game you were all warm and fuzzy with edmunds and he carried so much of the burden in the running game when it wasn’t working even though everyone knew we had o-line trouble now you have him changing positions and playing LB……SMH. Tre has more than proven himself as a running back and also catching passes out of the backfield, I certainly hope the coaches don’t have the same turn coat mentality that I’m reading from some of the post!

      1. A little harsh there tla, chill…it’s just opinions and what ifs for the sake of discussion…..per the 1st Amendment. Deep breath!

  2. We need to let this kid heal from his injury first. I would think he will redshirt the first year even though he is coming in January.

  3. I agree his speed looks good, but there were some monster holes on most of those runs, he will not have that kind of blocking at VT next year.

  4. On some of those runs he looks like Jerome Bettis. Let’s see if he can get to 240lbs and be our own bus!

  5. It’s strange, his running motion doesn’t look that fast, but then you see him blowing by everyone on the field. Exciting get!

  6. Wow! This pretty much makes up for the Drew Harris debacle. Finally it looks like we’ve got a stable of proto-typical VT running backs. And I love that both Williams and McKenzie will get some work with Mike Gentry and also experience with Spring ball. The competition between them and Coleman and Caleb is just going to make everybody better. Trey is going to feel the pressure, too. If we had had these guys in 2013 no telling the difference it would have made. Good work,recruiting staff!

  7. Awesome get. Cant wait for spring practice to start. Nice to get some serious RB contenders coming in ever since Harris didn’t qualify. Like to see where we are sitting in the recruiting class rankings.

  8. HUGE! Chris Coleman……I know this is only a verbal but this is shockcity. Tech deserves these mini-victories right now…..the coaching staff is in a zone wooing, “stealing” and flipping recruits like they are. Hold onto your hats for Derrick Dnnadi…… even Da’Shawn Hand & Isiah Ford might change their minds on Bama & Louis at this rate.

    1. Highlight reel is sick……the kids got vision and burst. Merry Christmas what a gift- He’s a close reincarnation of Kevin Jones (4.23 withstanding).

  9. I hope McKenzie can enroll during the spring and just heal up. Williams is listed at soft commit on Rivals. Why?

    1. Just another example of how big a job these big pay recruiting services have and still can’t be real accurate. Too many kids in a wide area to cover. Think about the whole country and all the players? It seems too few of people and I bet some are part time. $10/month buys you little IMPO. I’ll stick with Will while he makes his millions off our $5/month n drives his fancy cars n wild women. 🙂
      IMPO, the aforementioned people per area is why you should trust the coaches and their contacts instead of getting all upset over a 2star kid the high price services have never seen or probably even heard of in their circles.
      BTW, I think our staff has stepped it up quite a bit and it looks better for next yr. Have we ever had 2 4stars or close to 4stars before Christmas of the previous yr? Nice Hokie Christmas present today!

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