Washington's McKenzie chooses Virginia Tech over Pitt
TribLIVE Sports Videos
He talked of loyalty, including the lack of it, in his opinion.
He talked of family and a desire to please his mother and father, who live 500 miles apart.
He talked of wanting to make an immediate impact at his new school despite having knee surgery that robbed him of most of his senior season.
Washington running back Shai McKenzie announced intentions Friday to attend Virginia Tech, turning his back on Pitt and Georgia Tech, his other finalists.
Pitt wanted him, McKenzie said.
“They (told) me, ‘I'm the guy, I'm the guy,' ” he said.
But coach Paul Chryst puts a high priority on running back, and he has verbal commitments from four-star Chris James of Illinois, Qadree Ollison of Buffalo and Shady Side Academy's Dennis Briggs, who may move to another position. McKenzie took it as a sign of disrespect.
“I like the coaching staff there,” he said. “There was just a lot of uncertainty about Pittsburgh. I'm a target in the area and a four-star guy, and they go out and get three other running backs. They are good, but you have somebody in your backyard.
“I felt like the loyalty wasn't all the way there.”
Yet that was only one factor in McKenzie's decision. If it were the only reason, he might have had an even more difficult time making up his mind. Virginia Tech hasn't been idly waiting for McKenzie's answer, either, getting previous commitments from three-star backs D.J. Reid and Marshawn Williams from Virginia.
Family also was a major consideration, with his mother, Misty Nolder, living in Atlanta and his father, Sean McKenzie, in Washington.
“Do I want to be away from my mom? Do I want to be away from my dad? Or be in between?” he said. “I'm a family guy, so I felt like equal distance will be a factor.”
The other aspect of McKenzie's recruitment is the torn ACL that he suffered three months ago.
Washington coach Mike Bosnic, a former Pitt offensive lineman, said McKenzie is ahead of the original six- to eight-month rehabilitation period.
“We have to make sure he is not pushing himself too fast,” Bosnic said. “He is convinced he is (going to be ready for summer training camp).”
Said McKenzie: “The (Virginia Tech) offense has been struggling a little bit, but I feel like I can come in and make a difference.”
McKenzie will graduate early and enroll in January to get a head start on learning the Hokies offense and take advantage of the free rehabilitation.
“It's really expensive,” he said. “Instead of getting it three times a week, I will be getting it six times a week.”
Bosnic believes the 6-foot, 212-pound McKenzie will be successful after rushing for 4,855 career yards despite a truncated senior season.
He said Washington, eliminated in the first round of the WPIAL playoffs, might have advanced to the state title game had McKenzie stayed healthy.
“He is the kind of guy who comes around every 20 or 30 years,” Bosnic said.
Jerry DiPaola is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates’ Worley tosses 4-hit shutout vs. Giants
- Westmoreland women stole thousands to finance dog show appearances
- Steelers hoping that youth movement breathes life into team
- Steelers notebook: Team hasn’t called on Keisel, Harrison yet
- Inside the ropes: Shazier shows off speed
- Pirates expect high prices in trade market
- Pittsburgh Brewing tries to reconnect with region, return to glory days
- Steelers linebacker Spence confident he can avoid injury setbacks
- Police say naked woman stabs three women during street fight in McKees Rocks
- Glassport Scout completes Eagle Project
- White Oak man ordered to pay fine in gambling ring case