It turns out the allure of carrying on the family name was greater than Kahlil McKenzie's desire to stay on the West Coast.
McKenzie committed to Tennessee at a scheduled announcement on Thursday. The 5-star defensive tackle announced on Twitter last month that he would be deciding between the Volunteers and Wildcats, narrowing down a robust list of offers to two schools.
Bleacher Report's Tyler Donohue had the report:
McKenzie also made his voice heard on Twitter:
McKenzie is the son of Oakland Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie, who starred as a linebacker at Tennessee and played parts of five seasons in the NFL. The elder McKenzie spent the 1993 season as an assistant coach under Phillip Fulmer before going into player personnel.
The younger McKenzie seems eager to follow in his father's footsteps.
Tennessee seemingly had an insurmountable lead throughout the recruiting process. 247Sports' Crystal Ball feature gave a 98 percent chance that McKenzie would head to Knoxville as of July 3. He's also had fun on social media throughout the process, retweeting numerous fan pleas for both schools while openly answering questions.
"I like Tennessee because I have a ton of family there in Knoxville and around," McKenzie told Wescott Eberts of SBNation. "I had never really been on campus and seen anything that they had done with the football stuff, so it was really cool to get in there and see all the new changes that they have made to the football facilities and meet the coaches to see what type of guys they are."
Arizona, a dark horse rarely mentioned in the early get-go, stood out because of its infrastructure. McKenzie cited everything from the coaching staff to the facilities as being impressive.
In the end, Butch Jones got his man.
Listed at 6'4" and 330 pounds, McKenzie is already built like a grown man. He overpowers offensive linemen with the sheer force of his being at the high school level and can knock players off-balance with a quick first step. It will be interesting to see how he develops at the collegiate level. Coaches will need to work on adding a more complete arsenal of moves at the line if he wants to develop into an above-average pass-rusher. Working against the run should be a more natural transition.
Rankings are somewhat scattered for that very reason, but few deny McKenzie's potential. 247Sports' composite rankings have McKenzie as the No. 32 overall prospect in the class of 2015, and he's the seventh-best defensive tackle and player in the state of California.
Those rankings may wind up improving even more during McKenzie's senior season, when he'll transfer from to Clayton Valley Charter-Concord. He'd previously played for De La Salle, where he recorded 74 total tackles and 12 sacks last season.
A propensity for transferring might be something to watch over the next year. McKenzie's commitment does not become official until national signing day in February. Until then, opposing coaches can still attempt to woo him into flipping or re-opening his recruitment. McKenzie has embraced the process and seemed steadfast in paring his schools down, but crazier things have happened.
For now, though, Tennessee fans can look forward to the next potential defensive cornerstone.
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