April 15, 2010

McKenzie making strides on defense

While most prospects have a difficult decision choosing which college they want to play for, it was a little different for Johnathan McKenzie.

The Starkville Academy (Miss.) standout had to decide whether to follow in his father Duncan's footsteps and play for his hometown Bulldogs or to concentrate on his academics at an Ivy League institution. McKenzie opted to give football a shot and Mississippi State is reaping the benefit of that choice.

"I'm happy with my decision and have really enjoyed it," McKenzie said. "It's tough with classes and I still don't know what I want to major in for sure. That's a difficult decision because the NCAA puts a pressure time limit on when you have to be progressively working towards a major. I'm trying to figure that out. I'm taking classes towards engineering but I don't know. I told myself that I wasn't going to let the difficulty effect anything but I just don't know if that's what I want to do."

The defensive end enrolled over the summer at 242-pounds but has since packed on 23-pounds and grown two inches up to 6-foot-6 following a redshirt season.

"I think it helped," McKenzie said. "I didn't get thrown into the fire. It would have been real confusing. It gave me a year to build and adjust to college and football. I got stronger and learned a lot."

McKenzie came in as a two-star, two-way prospect out of the MPSA ranks. He caught 27 passes for 473 yards and six touchdowns as a tight end as well as adding 13 sacks on defense earning first team, All-State honors. McKenzie was selected to play in the MPSA All-Star game and finished as the North squad's Most Valuable Defensive Player.

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