Four-star running back Shai McKenzie (Washington, Pa.) committed to Virginia Tech on Friday afternoon, choosing the Hokies over Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech.
Craig Meyer of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette tweeted the news from Washington High School, where McKenzie announced his decision:
Four-star running back Shai McKenzie commits to Virginia Tech.— Craig Meyer (@CraigMeyerPG) December 20, 2013
McKenzie is the No. 233 overall prospect and No. 13 running back on the 247Sports composite rankings. After Nos. 6 and 7 running backs Joseph Yearby (Miami) and Elijah Hood (North Carolina), he is the third-highest-ranked rusher committed to play at an ACC school next year.
ESPN.com lists his 40-yard dash time at a solid 4.58, but McKenzie is built big and compact (5'11'', 210 lbs) and projects as more of a between-the-tackles runner at the next level. He sees holes well and does his best running north to south, though sometimes he errs and opts to stretch plays outside instead of taking the easy yards.
His coaches will need to fix that in Blacksburg and gear McKenzie toward his strengths.
McKenzie joins 3-star prep-school standout D.J. Reid in the Hokies' 2014 recruiting class. Both will be counted on to revive a woeful running game, which, according to CFBStats.com, averaged just 3.11 yards per carry in 2013—second-worst in the ACC and 118th nationally.
That is unacceptable in Frank Beamer's patented system, where games are won with defense, special teams and ball control. It's important to have a back like McKenzie who is powerful enough to pick up solid chunks of yardage on every carry.
Freshman Trey Edmunds didn't show much in his first season on the field, so there's no reason McKenzie can't step in and make a quick impact by doing just that.