A very select group of players in the 2014 class have more than 30 scholarship offers. One of them is Shai McKenzie. The running back from Washington (Pa.) has been entertaining a ton of coaches and media members but it has started to weigh on him.
"Narrowing my list was going to happen sooner or later so I might as well get all the hate and judgment out of the way," said the 6-foot, 212-pound McKenzie. "I'm not going to make a commitment until the time comes. I think I'll commit at one of the All-American games if I'm there but if not it'll probably be on signing day."
The Rivals250 running back announced on Twitter yesterday that he has cut his list down to 15 schools. In no order, Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Florida State, Pittsburgh, Oklahoma, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Michigan State, West Virginia, North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, Arkansas and South Carolina all made the cut. McKenzie briefly explained why he is still considering each school.
Georgia - "My mothers side of the family lives in Georgia and I only see my mother about once every three years so it's really a family thing," he said. "I've built up a pretty good relationship with Coach McClendon. He's been recruiting me for the past month and a half and he's a pretty nice guy. They also play freshman so that builds my interest."
Tennessee - "I've been talking to Tennessee for roughly seven months now," McKenzie said. "Some of their staff is from West Virginia so I've been talking to them for a long time. They're in the SEC and play big time football. They're another team I've been building a good relationship with."
Virginia Tech - "I know I recently picked up an offer from them but they were one of the first schools to talk to me as a freshman," he said. "They were highly interested in me so I believe they were waiting to offer me until I had a great season. I know I really wasn't that great when I was younger. They've been keeping in contact with me down the line. I know it's a great atmosphere down there being in the ACC."
Florida State - "They really just got into the mix," said McKenzie. "I know my father likes Florida State. Growing up I watched them a little bit and saw they run a pro-style offense. I feel like I could probably fit in their offensive scheme. I was talking with one of their coaches since he was at Tennessee."
Pittsburgh - "I feel like I have the best relationship with the running back coach," he said. "I don't know the other coaches too much but my position coach is a really nice guy and he knows my family. I like that they're close to home. I know they're working on getting a bunch of good players and are building the program."
Oklahoma - "I really like Adrian Peterson and I wear number 28," McKenzie said. "Peterson was my role model growing up, I watched him in college and I still watch him now. I'll probably have the same build as him. I know they're trying to produce running backs and I think I could fit that style offense. My relationship with the coaches there aren't the best but we're still building that chemistry."
Georgia Tech - "I literally talk to their coaches everyday on Facebook," McKenzie laughed. "They basically tell me all the things I want to hear but they're pretty honest. I know they run the three back set and they tell me I could really impact their running game. They're another tell that's close to my mother, she's only 30 minutes from them."
Michigan State - "I put them in the top 15 because they're one of the most honest teams," he said. "I know they produce really good running backs and they usually always have a 1,000-yard rusher. They brought in some big time linemen and I have a pretty good relationship with Coach Staten. I'm going to continue to talk to them."
Michigan - "I feel like I put them in the top 15 more so because of their popularity," McKenzie said. "I talk to their coaches a lot and the head coach came to see me. The little downfall with them is they just brought in that talented running back, Derrick Green. I feel like I may not be a major priority there."
West Virginia[/db] - "I feel like I have them in the top 15 because they're close to home," he said. "I recently went to their camp and got to sit in their meeting room with them guys. A lot of them look like scat back type guys and if they brought in a guy like me they'd probably use me as more of an every down back. I feel like I could play right away at West Virginia."
North Carolina - "I chose North Carolina because after doing some research on the running backs they have now, it seems like they could use another talented running back," said McKenzie. "I really never heard too much about the North Carolina program and my dad didn't even know they had a team. One of my main interests is being able to play right away when I get to the next level and I could do that at North Carolina. I've been talking to Coach Jordan lately and he is a really nice guys and I'll continue to talk to them."
Vanderbilt - "I recently picked up an offer from them a few days ago," he said. "I've been talking to their coaches a lot and they have had a lot of 1,000-yard backs as well. They're in the SEC and they have a dominant running game. I know they're trying to build up their team but I don't know too much about them right now."
Wisconsin - "My favorite running back in college football these past few years has been Montee Ball," McKenzie said. "I really watched him a lot and really liked his game. That really built my interest. They don't have any backs that are as good as him so I might be able to get playing time right away."
Arkansas - "I know their coaches from when they were at Wisconsin," he said. "I've been talking to Coach Partridge for a while. They're another school where I have really good relationships."
South Carolina - "They're a school that I always watched growing up because of Marcus Lattimore," McKenzie said. "I always had to turn on their game and watch him run the ball. I just like how they run the ball and they pass a little bit but they mix it up. They're another team in a great conference. I know that I could probably get on the field a little bit in my first year and make a difference."
McKenzie already knows when he will be making his next cuts.
"I will narrow it down to 10 in May because I want to speed it up a little bit so I'm not getting called all the time," he said. "It's subject to change and there are teams that will get knocked out and some that could move up. I've been talking to Auburn, LSU and Miami.
It seems as though a few schools have done a good enough job recruiting McKenzie to make it into the round.
"Some schools that will for sure make the next cut are Pittsburgh, Florida State, South Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia," he said.
McKenzie will display his talents when the Rivals Camp Series Presented by Under Armour hits Pittsburgh on April 28.