Defensive tackle Jaden McKenzie kept the cards close to his chest throughout his recruitment. A native of Wake Forest, N.C., the Carolina schools of Wake Forest, North Carolina, Duke and Clemson all were vying for his commitment.
On Wednesday, though, McKenzie decided that he wasn’t going to be playing college football in the Carolinas; instead, he’ll be suiting up as a member of the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Carrying a three-star rating, McKenzie was graded by the 247sports composite as the 58th best DT in his recruiting class, and the 40th best prospect in North Carolina. In addition to the Carolina programs, OSU held off Wisconsin, UCF and Tennessee for McKenzie’s commitment.
With the Letter of Intent signed, the defensive line coach Larry Johnson gets another recruit to mold into elite talent. At 6-foot-3.5 and 280 pounds, McKenzie will have some work to do before seeing any important reps on the field—but he’s coming to a place known for developing talent.
Jaden McKenzie is a familiar kind of recruit for Larry Johnson. A bit of a late bloomer, McKenzie has great size at 6-foot-4, 280 pounds, and an impressive amount of athleticism for that large frame. He spent a pretty good chunk of time at end, not tackle in high school, which means he’s got better bend and pass rush moves than you’d usually see from a tackle.
All of that is exactly what Johnson wants in a developmental tackle prospect. An above-average technical base, a very good athletic background, and Ohio State caliber size. I don’t think McKenzie plays right away, especially with the significant depth Ohio State has at tackle right now, but he can be a very good pass rushing tackle down the road for sure.
The main down side here is just a lack of polish in general, and not a ton of experience with run stuffing. McKenzie is definitely big enough to plug up holes inside, but he hasn’t really done that before which means he’ll need to learn. Ultimately, this is a developmental guy, though a very good one. Buckeye fans should be happy here. - Patrick Mayhorn
McKenzie has a knack for finding the ball carrier and bringing him down. He can get past lineman and like a heat-seeking missile, find the football. Take a look at his highlight reel to see what I mean.