Kahlil McKenzie (Concord, Calif. Clayton Valley) is continuing the family legacy in Knoxville as the five-star defensive tackle committed to the Tennessee Volunteers from Nike’s “The Opening” on Thursday evening.
The 6-4, 341-pound McKenzie is the nation’s No. 32 overall recruit in the nation regardless of position, the No. 7 defensive tackle and the No. 7 player in the state of California.
McKenzie is the son of former Tennessee linebacker and current Oakland Raiders general manager, Reggie McKenzie, and the nephew of former Vols offensive lineman Raleigh McKenzie.
Very blessed to be part of vol nation. To all the great fans of Tennessee I assure you we will rise to national prominence once again #GBO
— Kahlil McKenzie (@KM1_Era) July 11, 2014
He named Tennessee his leader on May 22 when he announced his commitment date would be at the All-Star camp at the Nike headquarters and picked the Vols over the Arizona Wildcats.
“I know everyone will know that last name, but I’ll just go in there and do my own thing and just leave my own sort of legacy, McKenzie tells 247Sports’ Ryan Callahan. That definitely adds significance, knowing that my dad ran around on that same field and knowing that my uncle did, and knowing that my grandpa was up there watching. That’s definitely a special feeling that’s a little bit different.
“No other school can offer me that.”
McKenzie has been one of the dominant performers at The Opening this week as he has routinely won one-on-one battles with some of the nation’s elite offensive linemen and as a result of plays like this was named the defensive line MVP. His play should be rewarded with a boost up the recruiting rankings.
Through two days, if I could sign any non-qb from @TheOpening2014, it would be Kahlil Mckenzie. That much body shouldn’t move like that.
— SB Nation Recruiting (@SBNRecruiting) July 9, 2014
Tennessee head coach Butch Jones made McKenzie a priority for this year’s class posting images of a Tennessee bucket hat around campus (McKenzie announced his pick by donning a Tennessee bucket hat) and like Jalen Hurd a year ago can serve as the headliner for the class that is now 20 deep and ranks as the nation’s No. 7 class and the No. 5 class in the SEC.
McKenzie is eerily reminiscent of former Tennessee defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth. Both were physical freaks who moved like players 75 pounds lighter but were immovable at the point of attack and routinely blew up opponents backfields, but unlike Haynesworth, McKenzie has a motor that runs non-stop.
McKenzie is the type of recruit who projects as a starter his freshman year and one who could be the face of the Tennessee defense as Jones continues to stockpile recruits to get the Vols back to the top of the SEC east standings.