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4-Star McKenzie Commits To The Hokies

Monday, December 23, 2013 10:16am
By: Brian Geisinger

What was already shaping up to be a strong 2014 recruiting class for Virginia Tech got even stronger afternoon when the Hokies landed a major prospect, four-star running back Shai McKenzie.

He becomes the 26th member of the Hokies' 2014 class.

McKenzie stands 5-11, weighs 210 pounds and runs a 4.58 40. He is ranked as the No. 13 running back in the 2014 class and the No. 5 overall player in Pennsylvania by 247Sports.com.  

McKenzie - who plays his prep ball for Washington (Pa.) High - was a highly sought after player; he had scholarship offers from 25 schools, including Virginia Tech. In the end, though, he chose Beamer Ball over a host of other prominent programs: Pittsburgh, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Georgia, and South Carolina.

This commitment really hurts for Paul Chryst and the Panthers. Pitt made McKenzie, who lives roughly 30 minutes south of Pittsburgh, a priority, but that just wasn't enough apparently.

According to Virginia Tech beat writer Andy Bitter, offensive coordinator Scot Loeffler and running backs coach Shane Beamer were the two primary coaches recruiting McKenzie.

There is a catch with McKenzie, though. After a junior season when he ran for over 2,700 yards and 42 touchdowns, McKenzie tore his ACL eary in his senior season.

The injury is causing its fair share of doubt. McKenzie, however, isn't phased by this.

It's good to see that McKenzie, who plans to enroll in school next month, has the right attitude about recovering from his injury, but the question now becomes: when will he physically be ready to play ball at a high level? Prior to the injury, McKenzie had racked up 650 rushing yards and 11 touchdown - all in only three total games. Will he be able to regain this form?

The decision - picking Virginia Tech - wasn't easy for McKenzie. He had reservations about playing away from his home and family.

However, a recent visit to Blacksburg - he took his official to the campus in the middle of November - helped seal the deal. Here's what McKenzie told Hokie Haven

"The last time I visited was in the summer and there wasn't really anybody on campus, so I didn't really get around the guys and there weren't too many people. Then I went down for my official visit and got to see a lot more, get more feel for the place and the dorms, and I really enjoyed being down there."

Along with Beamer and Loeffler, several players played a large role in McKenzie's recruitment.

"I spent a lot of time with the guys and they told me it's going to be good things happening in the future with Virginia Tech," he said. "It's always been a rising program. They haven't been too much lately; the offense has been struggling a little bit. But I feel like I can come in and make a difference."

If you want to see highlights of McKenzie in action, check here.