Arizona football: 5-star McKenzie commits to Tennessee over UA

2014-07-10T17:48:00Z 2014-07-11T09:23:19Z Arizona football: 5-star McKenzie commits to Tennessee over UADaniel Berk Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Kahlil McKenzie is taking his talents and bucket hats to Knoxville, Tenn.

The five-star defensive tackle from Concord, Calif., committed to Tennessee over Arizona tonight during ESPNU’s broadcast of The Opening in Beaverton, Ore.

McKenzie narrowed his college choices to the Wildcats and Volunteers last month and tonight made it official that he’s headed to Knoxville. There, he’ll follow in his father’s footsteps. McKenzie’s dad Reggie, the current general manager of the Oakland Raiders, was born in Knoxville and starred at Tennessee.

McKenzie announced his decision during an interview with ESPN’s Tom Luginbill.

“For the next few years, I’ll be attending the University of Tennessee,” McKenzie said. “It’s just a second home. Everything about it I loved, from top to bottom. Everything about it was a perfect fit for me.”

McKenzie would have been the star of the UA’s recruiting class had he committed to the Wildcats. The UA currently has 18 commitments for the 2015 class, and only one of them — offensive tackle Keenan Walker — is rated higher than a three-star prospect.

The Wildcats went all in on McKenzie in recent weeks, breaking out every trick in the book to try to land the defensive lineman. Coach Rich Rodriguez and recruiting coordinator Matt Dudek both have worn bucket hats — McKenzie’s favorite —during video interviews in recent weeks. But Arizona has been viewed as the underdog in McKenzie’s recruitment in recent weeks and tonight that was validated.

Rodriguez and his staff will likely continue to recruit McKenzie with six-plus months left until national signing day. The Wildcats learned last year that a verbal commitment from a five-star recruit isn’t always solid. Cornerback Jalen Tabor committed to the UA on national TV in January, only to reverse his decision seven days later.

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About this blog

Daniel Berk began covering UA football in 2013 after spending two-plus years as the Star's high school sports coordinator. Previously, he served as the sports editor and NAU beat writer for the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff for three years.

A University of Kansas graduate and St. Louis native, Berk is still getting used to 350 days of sunshine, the relentless "dry heat" of the summer and the fact that Tucson doesn't have a real hockey rink.

Contact Daniel at dberk@azstarnet.com or by calling 573-4330. Follow him on Twitter @DSBerk.

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