Shai McKenzie Commits to Virginia Tech

Moments ago Washington, PA running back Shai McKenzie announced his commitment to Virginia Tech. Shai is rated as a 4-star prospect by both Rivals.com and 247Sports. The Hokies edged out Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech for his commitment.

At 6-foot, 210 pounds McKenzie has the size to be a feature tailback in Blacksburg. It's easy to tell from his highlights that he's powerful and quick. He makes decisive cuts which will suit him well in Loeffler's / Grimes' zone rushing attack.

Most of McKenzie's work in high school came in a pro-I offense, with a toss play where he reads the fullback's lead block and cuts off the seam created serving as a primary play. His high school offense also used a wishbone look with Shai offset a little deeper than a normal wishbone to run a power lead play near the goal line.

Stylistically, McKenzie runs similarly to Michael Holmes, but in a bigger and more athletic body. He is incredibly patient and waits on seams to develop, then makes a decisive hard cut to the hole. Like Holmes, he uses his shoulders well to fake defenders and set up his blocks. As shown in his film, if McKenzie is running a stretch toss play to the right sideline, he will set up the unblocked defender with a hard shoulder turn to the inside (indicating a cutback.) The defender will stop his forward momentum and start to crouch for a tackle attempt, and then McKenzie will push hard off of his inside leg. If you watch the play at the 33 second mark of the video, McKenzie sets up the inside linebacker with the same move that you see on other clips where he runs to the outside. Once he has made up his mind to go, his size and power intimidates smaller defensive backs, and for those that are brave, he welcomes their advances with a quality stiff arm.

One thing that he will need to work on in Blacksburg is pad level. McKenzie runs very upright, and when running that tall, those shoulder fakes expose the football. Based on scouting reports on McKenzie he does not have a history of fumbling, but on some of these plays you can see moments where the ball is exposed and a solid hit could dislodge it.

McKenzie represents a trend where Coach Beamer seems to be looking to go away from smaller scat backs and find the true big workhorse back that the Hokies have had success with in the past. Edmunds, Marshawn Williams, and McKenzie are all big kids who look comfortable between the tackles as well as on the outside. However, we saw Coach Loeffler start to use Edmunds on some jet sweep inverted veer action as well as on the sweep look from the spread and he had success. We can expect that future tailbacks in a Coach Loeffler offense would need to be comfortable in similar sets. Let's take a look at this play from McKenzie.

As you can see, McKenzie runs a jet sweep, very similar to how the Hokies used Edmunds and especially J.C. Coleman down the stretch this season. Despite being a bigger back, McKenzie has the speed to get to the edge, but adds the power to turn the corner and overpower defenders. This threat makes the inverted veer play and the read option even more dangerous, as a power back on the edge can not just be defended through alignment. McKenzie can break tackles, as he does with a vicious stiff arm in this clip.

The are more highlights available on McKenzie's Hudl page.

Due to a torn ACL in his right knee, Shai only played in 3 games his senior season, but rushed for an impressive 650 yards. Shai plans on graduating high school early and enrolling in spring.

Welcome to HokieNation Shai!

Contact the editor about this post anytime by phone: (703) 646-1931 or mail: 3057 Nutley St Suite 633, Fairfax, Virginia 22031.

Comments

Wow, French, you write really quickly! He just committed a minute ago!

@seanhoganvt

I was well prepared. We have been keeping an eye on his recruitment for a long time. Nnadi, Keihn, Minor, and lock up Harrison and then WIN THE WHOLE DAMN THING.

Viva El Guapo

Are there any other recruits that you are "well prepared" to quickly write a scouting report on?

Gonna be a Hokie boner flavored weekend. Now lets get VCU!

"Yeah, it do." - Mike Vick

Wouldn't know about the flavor, its usually my Hokie in someone else's mouth

Not judging your style. To each his own. But taste em all champ, it is a good recruit pull.

Which wallet is yours?

The one that says "Bad Motherfucker"

Living here in Pittsburgh, I saw Shai play last year (2012) against South Fayette (PA's AA State Champion this year), and he torched them. He's the real deal. Excellent vision, runs hard and low. He was Washington High's offense and they struggled after he got hurt this year.

WFP

UNC '11

Great news! Welcome to Hokie Nation, Shai! Let's hope that ACL gets back to 100% quickly so you can hit the field and set some records.

Hot damn! Things are looking bright for the Hokies, Frank said this is his best recruiting staff ever and it's sure looking that way!

Welcome to the Hokie Nation, Shai!

I support Coach Frank Beamer.

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804. Hokies, Keydets, Army Black Knights, NY Giants, NY Rangers, and ATL Braves.

That Hokie Lacrosse girl

I support Coach Frank Beamer.

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804. Hokies, Keydets, Army Black Knights, NY Giants, NY Rangers, and ATL Braves.

Lefty and Shane

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson
@HaydenDubya

Welcome to Hokie Nation Shai! If he had not gotten injured he would of been close to a 5 star. Dude is gonna be a great one!

In Sam Rogers we trust.

Awesome get. We are starting to pile up offensive talent

I'll see your 10 and raise you to 12

Which wallet is yours?

The one that says "Bad Motherfucker"

Beamer has NEVER won 12 games in his entire career as a coach.

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

No kidding Debbie Downer

Which wallet is yours?

The one that says "Bad Motherfucker"

Oh, so pointing out a fact automatically makes me a skeptic now?

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

Actually, I'm not stopping at 12, I'm going to 14, 15 in you could 12+Acc Title+playoff game 1+Playoff game 2

EDIT: math corrected after the fact

Which wallet is yours?

The one that says "Bad Motherfucker"

All for that! I've been the one giving you legs, but the "Debbie" reference uncalled for just because I simply stated a fact. Show some respect. Thanks. #MCKENZIE4HEISMAN

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

For the record, I upvoted this and am not part of the downvote contingent.

Which wallet is yours?

The one that says "Bad Motherfucker"

We're MORE than friends, we're HOKIES! Where's that "hug it out, bitchez" gif?

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

As neither am I. I am pro upvote/gobbler leg (though I have on occasion tard fingered accidentally) and very much anti downvote/down gobbler leg. But it seems their are a few trolls that still won't come out of hiding.

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

Downvotes? So am I to understand there are folks on here that DON'T want #MCKENZIE4HEISMAN?? Puzzling.

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

Nah, it ain't that.

We all know why you were called a Debbie downer. I think it was in jest on both sides. Anyone here who doesn't know we have not pulled 12-0 is new or something.

No biggie.

Bigger, Faster, STRONGER...BUILT TO HIT

My statement wasn't pointed specifically toward us, it was more on the entire history of Beamer's career (all the way back to Murray St). But in any case, commence "hug it out bitch."

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

Obviously they are either #MARSHAWN4HEISMAN, FORD4HEISMAN, ROGERS4HEISMAN, THEFABFIVE4HEISMAN (would VT get 5 trophies?), or even #FORTHDOWNQB4HEISMAN.

"Hokie religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid." Han Solo

"YOU!"

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

Stoked! This is a great pickup and our backfield is loaded. Heal up that ACL injury Shai and welcome to Hokie Nation!

I can only hope within a year our O-Line can open some big holes for him to run through. He probably will redshirt after his nasty ACL tear, but he can get in early get some school knocked out and learn that playbook!

"I'm high on Juice and ready to stick it in!" Whit Babcock

getting in early allows him to work with our trainers and medical staff on rehabbing that ACL as well

Marshawn and Shai are gonna be a nasty duo in the near future

"Go Hokies!" - Thomas Jefferson
@HaydenDubya

YES.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

Awesome! Cant wait for spring practice to start. Welcome Shai!

If you don't want to recruit clowns, don't run a clown show.

My guess is that the tears were for being able to get out of Washington PA. I lived there this summer, not exactly a nice place.

1) Getting out of Washington, PA
2) Having a lifelong dream realized
3) Going through the ACL tear, not being able to finish your last year of HS football
4) Having closure to the entire recruiting process
5) Thanking god you're not going to UVA

I'm not sure if this is appropriate. It's just what me and my friends sing any time someone does something for someone pretty.

Boom. Take notice ACC, college football...

And the world.

Hey there mister Hokie man, merry Christmas!

Bigger, Faster, STRONGER...BUILT TO HIT

Aw YEAH! Suck on it Panthers!

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

That second run in the video though... O_O

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

MV3....DW2

Commonwealth Cup Champions since Sat, Nov 27, 2004 at 4:05:00 PM EST

What a day so far!!! I couldn't be happier with the way recruiting has picked up and gotten 1000 times better. yeah we might have had a rough season.. Obviously the recruits are seeing the vision that Frank, Bud, Shane, Lefty, and all the coaches have for this team and its starting to come together!

Now we need Nandi and It will be hard for me to remember such a talented more complete recruiting year for us.

"I'm high on Juice and ready to stick it in!" Whit Babcock

My goodness, I think we're in for something special my fellow Hokies. In about 2-3 years... this ACC is going to be locked down once again.

Less then that my friend.

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

I'm with ya' but FSU might have something to say about that. Assuming Jumbo stays of course.

Then SAM ROGERS will just go up and "punch them in the neck." Then we'll hear if they have the ability to say ANYTHING after that.

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

I don't believe in Florida state. I don't think they played any quality defenses. With the exception of Clemson (who, let's face it, pulled the mother of all Clemsons...aand, were a bit overrated I think) ...they didn't really play any quality offenses either...and they got lit up by boston college.

I look at Florida state like Oregon, finesse.

I think Tre Mason is going to have a field day.

I really hope the NC is the offensive, scoreboard-imploding game (as opposed to Bama vs LSU SEC Title Game parts 1 & 2) that it's looking to be. I think FSU wants a shootout, and I can't see Auburn's defense keeping it from being one.

#BeatDuke

I gotta disagree with ya bud. FSU is built like an SEC team. Have done a great job in recruiting and have big time depth. FSU's defense is lights out to. With that being said I think it will still be a shoot out. But if a team needs to make more stops I see it being the fsu defense. Not so much on Auburns defense

So on his hudl video it says he averaged 15.1 yards per carry for the 2012 (his Junior) season. For comparison, does anyone know that stat for Marshawn? Is it normal for elite RBs to have that high of number for yards/carry?

VT '15

Marshawn Williams: 7 broken tackles/carry.

But for Marshawn, all I can find is that he amassed 2192 yds and 30 TDs this season. I'm certain his YPC was at least decent.

No, I *don't* want to go to the SEC. Why do you ask?

Its typically high for elite rbs in high school, but that's really high. Reference: David Wilson averaged 11.4yds/carry his junior year

So stoked...great get Lefty!

Eat your vegetables.

Any word on when Raymon Minor is committing? I hear Melvin is deciding next week sometime, and I'd imagine Nnadi is waiting until Signing Day.

RealDiehl

Raymon is taking an official to Miami on January 17th so I'm guessing sometime near or on Signing Day.

In Sam Rogers we trust.

I think that he compliments Marshawn with his break away speed. I really like this get. Great running back class!!

Marshawn & Shai....... I'm seeing the reincarnation of Kevin Jones & Lee Suggs combo! Boom!

#MCKENZIE4HEISMAN

True Hokies STICK IT IN!!!

STICK IT IN Army of Virginia Tech

Fosterball

Remind me again- is it a good or bad thing he called it The University of Virginia Tech?

Following in Tyrod's footsteps so take that as you will

RealDiehl

lol

"I'm high on Juice and ready to stick it in!" Whit Babcock

Brady Taylor welcomed him to Hokie Nation on twitter, more good news considering some people thought he might of switched his pledge to OSU.

In Sam Rogers we trust.

For some reason this was a suggested video after Kai's highlight reel:

Commonwealth Cup Champions since Sat, Nov 27, 2004 at 4:05:00 PM EST

We could refer to our backfield as one beast: "MacWilliams"

"And it is caught, it is caught for a touchdown"

I can imagine the t-shirts and signs now! McWilliams: Ba da ba da da I'm truckin' it.

#BeatDuke

Can I get a NnadiKeihn shake with that to go please?

Rob Peterson
VTCC
Charlie/Hotel Company
Class of 1999

He said a few weeks back that Tech has the best food. That should always give our recruiting--football players in particular--an unfair advantage.

I support Coach Frank Beamer.

VT '10, Born & Raised in the 804. Hokies, Keydets, Army Black Knights, NY Giants, NY Rangers, and ATL Braves.

Anybody else notice how his eyes reflected the light at the 00:14 mark? Is he part wolf?

What's Important Now?
The Lunchpail. The Hammer. BeamerBall.
Deal some damage boys

That's the look he gives would-be tacklers. Who then run the other direction as fast as they can.

#thingsiblamethemvsfor

God dammit, another kid pullin' a tyrod! University of Virginia Tech? Not again!

Twitter me

So happy about this commitment! My roommate is from PA was sure that he would stay in-state and go to Pitt. I look forward to rubbing this in his face when winter break is over.

I can't pull up the Tweets from my phone, for some reason, but the reaction of many Pitt fans to Shai's commitment has been obscene and classless. Many of these people need to relax- you can criticize a player for not playing well, but not someone making possibly one of, if not the largest decision of his life. That being said, I can already tell this will motivate Shai to run some fools over in the ACC. Congrats and welcome to Virginia Tech!

Virginia Tech '08
Fordham University (NY) '11, '12

Twitter: @duffmanhokie
PSN Handle: duffmanhokie1568 (NCAAF '12, NHL '11, Battlefield)

Hokies, NY Rangers, NY Jets, NY Mets (sigh), USA Hockey, Richmond Renegades (R.I.P)

The hater is wearing a UNC shirt but his account says Pittsburgh. Hmm wonder why he doesn't want to play up there with great fans like these... Tune out the haters and welcome to Hokie Nation, Shai!

#BeatDuke

Thanks 804VTHokie- that was the tweet that stands out. Some others are floating around as well, but many aren't "hashtagged" and are replies to some recruiting experts (which are deleted quickly or the accounts quickly become private). Keyboard muscle mentality.....

Virginia Tech '08
Fordham University (NY) '11, '12

Twitter: @duffmanhokie
PSN Handle: duffmanhokie1568 (NCAAF '12, NHL '11, Battlefield)

Hokies, NY Rangers, NY Jets, NY Mets (sigh), USA Hockey, Richmond Renegades (R.I.P)

He left the plot to overthrow the government? I have concerns about Shai now if he was involved in coups.

Haha I love Shai's humor about it by just responding "Thanks" Hope he heals quickly and is another great Tech RB

Virginia Tech '12
Go Hokies and Philly Sports

Indeed. Anyone jagoff can hate over twitter, it's nice to see that Shai already knows that responding with negativity won't get him anywhere.

Welcome to the family Shai.

Definition:

Asshat; noun
One who has their head up their ass. Thus wearing their ass as a hat. Asshat

This Chris Spera guy needs to have the shit kicked out of him for saying something like that. Hope someone is already on that.

Beamer Supporter

He appears to be pregnant with his pal Bullwinkle's baby.....

ChicagoHokie

Shai is like the fourth highly-touted local recruit in the past week who had Pitt as a finalist and wound up going out of state. That doesn't mean there's any excuse for what some of the jagoffs are saying to him on Twitter but this reaction is a culmination of several recruit failures in a very short time span for them and Shai was the last straw. I don't think he would be getting this much hate under normal circumstances.

Insightful and great on expounding what may be going on up there -hope it doesn't speak to Pitt on a downward trend; we want to beat dat azz at the highest level.

"...sticks and stones may break my bones but I'm gonna kick you repeatedly in the balls Gardoki!"

My favorites are the ones saying he came here because he's scared of competition.

VT is up to 26 commits. I did a quick count and it looks like they have 62 scholarship players on the roster not counting seniors who graduate (I may have missed a walk-on or two that have a scholarship or miscounted). I'm interested to see how VT works the numbers.

Keep in mind as we have seen in signing days in the past that that 26 may not remain 26. There are always last minute de-commits. Hopefully there are none though from this solid class

Virginia Tech '12
Go Hokies and Philly Sports

There's two big factors that will end up putting us under the 25/yr and 85 overall limits.
1) There's going to be some attrition from the current roster, mostly guys who are rising redshirt seniors who are not in the projected playing rotation. For example Zack McCray has already announced that he's retiring from football so he can move on and put his degree to use getting a job to support his family.

2) Some of this incoming class will be enrolling in January and can be counted towards the 2013 class which was not maxed out. (because several guys prepped). There will mostly likely be a couple guys who have to prep or who will take a gray shirt and enroll in 2015.

Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Whitley, Hosley, Fuller, Exum

Assuming the early enrollees will be Ford, Williams, McKenzie, Mihota, Fisher, Reid, and Jefferson. Am I missing anyone?

Viva El Guapo

As for attrition, McCray is one. I think Jake Goins was kept on scholarship but his career is over. Duan Perez-Means and Donaldven Manning left the program. It is still a bit of a mystery what Deon Clarke and Corey Marshall's future with the Hokies. And, I am sure there are some kids that are probably feeling like either looking elsewhere or just enjoying being students.

Also, if I were a betting man I'd bet that Carlis Parker gets redshirted with all the talented receivers coming in. This year was a bit of a waste for him.

Viva El Guapo

Nice to get a back out of PA who plans to enroll early.

Bucky Hodges is open

Im assuming this is who you're referring to but do we have any updates on Drew Harris and I just missed them, or is he still planning on VT, or at this point with Shai and company is he gonna go elsewhere?

Virginia Tech '12
Go Hokies and Philly Sports

He's getting an Associates Degree. Which means he's eligible to play in the ACC. And we're allowed 2 JUCO (total for all sports) as a member of the ACC. So there's a chance.

Flowers, Harris, Chancellor, Carmichael, Whitley, Hosley, Fuller, Exum

There's a chance, sure, but VT really doesn't take JUCO players. There was a thread all about it months ago. With the influx of quality RB recruits that we've got, I'd say the ship has absolutely sailed on Harris. Our class is filling up as it is.

You've been watching 'What the Bleep Do We Know?" again, haven't you?

Sadly, no, I'm just a huge nerd and quantum chemistry is part of my day job. Though I'm very curious about this show now...

Great to see the players are as excited about this as us fans!

#BeatDuke

I know that tweets like these are probably pro-forma for recruits these days, but I like the fact that Ford is taking a leadership role, even if its in a virtual forum. I don't have twitter, but I have seen plenty of these from him welcoming people on board and enouraging people on the fence to commit. Says a lot about Ford's view of the program.

Which wallet is yours?

The one that says "Bad Motherfucker"

"I don't know what a Hokie is, but God is one of them!" - Lee Corso

Is he suggesting that he's an amazing lineman or the best wingman ever?

"Hokie religions and ancient weapons are no match for a good blaster at your side, kid." Han Solo

yes

"I like to hit a home run early" ~ Whit "knows how to create a Buzz" Babcock

He's the third McKenzie brother

Commonwealth Cup Champions since Sat, Nov 27, 2004 at 4:05:00 PM EST

Is that after Bob and Doug, eh?

What's Important Now?
The Lunchpail. The Hammer. BeamerBall.
Deal some damage boys

You should get more legs, but sadly a lot of these guys weren't born when this was funny -though I'd be the first one in line to catch the remake of 'Strange Brew'...

"...sticks and stones may break my bones but I'm gonna kick you repeatedly in the balls Gardoki!"

Geez, I remember watching SCTV....good latenight.

Take the shortest route to the ball and arrive in bad humor.