Concord, California defensive tackle Khalil McKenzie is ready to complete the recruiting process. It's been exciting and at sometimes hard, but he has set a date of July 10th to announce his college choice between Tennessee and Arizona.
"I've been talking to my family," McKenzie said. "I just don't feel it's necessary to drag it out because I'm ready to make my decision. I'm really excited to announce and get the process over with and get focused on my senior season. It will also allow me to start working recruits and get them to join our class."
So what made the Volunteers and Wildcats the top two for one of the nation's elite defensive lineman?
"It came down to who I felt was really genuine and the family atmosphere," McKenzie said. "I feel like both schools have those qualities. Everyone always talks about my family ties to Tennessee, but I feel like Arizona also offers some great things. I feel good about both schools and they have both told me that they will offer me the opportunity to come in and earn a spot for early playing time."
McKenzie has natural ties to Knoxville with his father and uncle both playing for Tennessee before their time in the NFL. He also has family just off campus including his grandfather who wants to see him wear the orange and white. All that aside, Tennessee head coach Butch Jones and his staff have done a nice job of selling the program.
"I really like all the new things they've done," McKenzie said. "I love the new facilities with the upgrades and you can tell everyone wants to be there. They are hungry to win."
McKenzie and Jones have built quite a strong bond. The top Vol has proven to be quite the closer when he gets involved in a recruitment and Jones has made the Golden state tackle know he's very important to the 2015 Tennessee recruiting class.
"I love that he is hands on," McKenzie said. "Most schools put another coach on you, but coach Jones like to be involved and has really made me a key. He lets me know how important I am. He sent me a direct message pic of him in bucket hat because I like to wear bucket hats. Shows me pays attention."
Once McKenzie pulls the trigger, he'll continue his hard work and put his focus squarely on improving his overall game.
"I'm going to work on my explosiveness and get my weight down," McKenzie said. "At times last year, I didn't play up to my potential. I'm excited to keep working hard and make sure I do all I can to be the player I know I can become."