Kahlil McKenzie is taking his talents and bucket hats to Knoxville, Tenn.
The five-star defensive tackle from Concord, California, committed to Tennessee over Arizona on Thursday during ESPNU’s broadcast of Nike’s The Opening in Beaverton, Ore.
McKenzie narrowed his college choices to the Wildcats and Volunteers last month and Thursday 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. Mc-
Kenzie is rated as the 10th-best player in the country by the Scout.com recruiting service and the No. 1 player in the West.
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 — Mc-
Kenzie’s favorite — during video interviews in recent weeks. But Arizona was viewed as the underdog in McKenzie’s recruitment , and that was validated Thursday.
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.
- Arizona senior safety Jared Tevis was named to the Bronko Nagurski watch list Thursday morning. Tevis, a Canyon del Oro High School graduate, was one of 18 Pac-12 players named to the list. All total, 81 players were put on the watch list.
The Bronko Nagurski Award is given to the best defensive player in college football.
Tevis started 11 games last year. He had 83 tackles, one sack and one interception.