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Virginia Tech picked up a bit of a surprise commitment today as Shai McKenzie announced his decision to commit to the Virginia Tech Hokies over offers from Pittsburgh, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Georgia, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Tennessee, South Carolina, West Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, and plenty more.
Mckenzie hails from Washington, Pennsylvania and will become the 3rd Pennsylvania running back to commit to Virginia Tech since 2001 (Kevin Jones and Drew Harris).
Sometimes, it’s easy to get wrapped up in how fast a player is or how elusive he is. McKenzie is a bit of an old school running back but he runs with a lot of determination and strength. He’s a bit of a power back but he flashes plenty of speed in one of his first highlight clips on Hudl. He’s not overly elusive like Kevin Jones but he has one clip around the two-minute mark where he breaks the ankles of a completely overmatched safety.
His vision is probably one of his best assets and he shows the ability to find that crease and explode through it. Also, he hits the hole with tremendous explosiveness, which is something a few of our former running backs have failed to do (to be fair, there hasn’t been many holes to explode through recently).
To be honest, they’re doesn’t seem to be much downside here. If anything, you worry about him putting a little too much weight on his frame and losing that explosiveness. Generally, focusing on lower body strength negates that and can often improve a player’s ability to accelerate. I know that’s something that Virginia Tech has changed recently in the weight room.
McKenzie is a great addition to this recruiting class and it will only give Shane Beamer more talent to play with starting next fall. Depending on how the depth chart shakes out this spring, I think there’s an outside chance that one of either Marshawn Williams or Shai McKenzie plays next fall while the rest of the running backs on roster redshirt.
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Tech has four guys left on the board they would probably like to add to this class. They are Derrick Nnadi, Raymon Minor, Melvin Keihn, and Isaiah Ford. I could see Tech taking three of those guys and potentially adding one or two more as greyshirts depending upon the amount of attrition the Hokies are expecting this off-season.
Three star defensive end Melvin Keihn is expected to announce next week on “Tuesday or Wednesday” according a tweet he sent out yesterday. Right now, the Hokies are the odds on favorite to land the talented defensive prospect out of Maryland.
That leaves Nnadi and Minor who are both in the midst of taking their official visits. Both players seem to be leaning towards the Hokies with Minor leaning more than Nnadi. That said, I still expect the Hokies to land both players when it comes time for each player to commit.
If that happens, Tech would finish this year with 15 four star commits according to 247Sports (using both rankings, their Composite and regular 247 rankings).
While Tech didn’t real in Da’Shawn Hand and they did miss out on Jalyn Holmes and M.J. Stewart in-state, I don’t think Tech could have done much better with the rest of this class. Andrew Ford is a quality quarterback recruit as is Chris Durkin, the five offensive line commitments all have a lot of upside, the defensive back recruits are of Virginia Tech quality, and the wide receiver recruits will likely push for early playing time when they enroll.
I think every Hokie fan should be happy with how things are looking right now in Blacksburg.
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