Profile: Isaiah McKenzie
Position: Running Back/Slot Receiver, Return Man
Location: Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage
Recruiting: McKenzie committed to Friday night to Notre Dame over schools like Vanderbilt, Rutgers and others.
What to like: There’s a lot to like about Isaiah McKenzie. This kid is lightning quick with very good speed. I mean his short area quickness is outstanding. He has excellent balance, vision and great feet and runs with good instincts. He has tremendous acceleration and can start and stop on a dime. McKenzie has a knack for making something happen out of nothing. The defense looks like they could have him corralled and he can somehow escape and make a play.
McKenzie is also extremely versatile. He can line up at running back or as a slot or outside receiver. As a running back he can run between the tackles but is best suited outside and in space. McKenzie, while raw a receiver, does show the ability to catch the football. He can also be a huge threat on special teams in the return game.
What may be of concern: There are a few areas of concern for McKenzie. First, he’s small at 5-foot-8, 167-pounds. Second, sometimes he tries to do too much. McKenzie takes a lot of risks with the football because he’s trying to make a big play. Rather than being a guy to take what he can get running north-south, he goes east-west, trying to elude would-be tacklers. Sometimes it works and McKenzie looks elusive and dazzling. Other times he creates some negative plays or loses some yards he wouldn't have in the first place had he just taken what was there. Lastly, he will need to become a more refined receiver, specifically with his route running.
Overall analysis: I love this pick up for Notre Dame. This program needs more speed, athleticism and big play ability for their offense and special teams and that’s exactly what I think he’s bringing to Notre Dame. He’s built and has many of the same traits as former West Virginia star Tavon Austin.
Like Austin, I can see him being used in a variety of ways in South Bend. Certainly he can get a few carries at running back but I see him settling in as a slot guy. McKenzie needs the ball in space, whether that’s sweeps in the run game, screens in the passing game or just figuring out creative ways to get him matched up one on one with linebackers and safeties. He has so much quickness and speed that he will be awfully tough to handle in one on one situations. McKenzie will also have a chance to be a huge asset in both punt and kickoff return.
McKenzie plays with five-star running back Sony Michel. Michel has been a national recruit since his first came on the scene as an 8th grader playing high school ball. He has overshadowed McKenzie. But this kid can flat out play. In fact, many believe that McKenzie is having a better senior season than Michel. To take in one step further, he's one of the more electrifying players from the state of Florida in this 2014 class.
McKenzie will be moved to a three-star from where he’s at now. And he would be given a higher ranking if it were not for his size.
Below are his highlights from this season. Keep in mind, American Heritage plays a very good schedule. So what you see below from McKenzie is against some very good competition. He makes some impressive plays in the four-minute highlight below. Enjoy.