Green Bay may be one of the epicenters of the game of football in America, but the region is not known as a traditional producer of college football talent. Southwest High class of 2015 defensive lineman Kahlil McKenzie may change that perception.
The 6-foot-3, 266-pound McKenzie impressed this past week at the Top Gun Camp in Virginia, getting moved up from the rising sophomores group to compete with the camps top line prospects, several of whom held Division I offers. McKenzie found the experience beneficial to his game.
"I loved the coaches and all that they taught me," McKenzie said. "I learned a bunch from the older kids too. I learned that it is a lot faster when you are with older kids and you have to work a lot harder. I have to get a lot faster, get my weight down a bit for that d-end position, or move to d-tackle."
McKenzie did not appear to be carrying much bad weight, if any, on his frame, but the rising sophomore played defensive end for Southwest High as a freshman and would like to stay at that position in college if possible.
"I think it will really depend on how hard I work," McKenzie said. "If I get to 6-4, 6-5 and 300 pounds I'll have to play d-tackle, but I like d-end a lot so I am going to try and get my speed up and bring my weight down so I can play defensive end."
The college interest in McKenzie has already begun, but he has not been real active in his recruitment yet. He had considered attending camps at Wisconsin and Vanderbilt this summer, but was traveling with his father, former NFL linebacker and current Oakland Raiders executive Reggie McKenzie, in California. Growing up around the game has created interest in several schools starting off his recruitment.
"I loved Oklahoma for awhile and that has really been my top school," McKenzie said. "I like Clemson and North Carolina too and like watching those [teams]. North Carolina seems to somehow get a defensive end in the first ten picks of the draft every year."
Miami, Wisconsin and Tennessee - where his father starred in the early 1980's - were other schools McKenzie mentioned having an interest in starting out the process.
Having a father who has made it to the highest levels of the sport, and who still is intimately involved in the game, has been an advantage McKenzie has taken full advantage of.
"It has helped me a lot because I get to talk to guys who have made it that far," McKenzie said. "They will tell me things that I need to work on because they know what it takes to get to the NFL, what it takes to be a No. 1 prospect coming out of high school. I love talking to them and hearing their stories and seeing how hard they work at it."
McKenzie should bring some college recruiting attention to the Green Bay area this fall, but with his father accepting the position with the Raiders, plans are to move to California following his sophomore season.