McKenzie says that even before he took his official visit to Auburn this past weekend he had a strong feeling that he wanted to be a Tiger. "I had known for some time now that Auburn is where I wanted to go, but I just had to make sure," he says.
"I like the players and how close they are," he says. "I like the fans and how they get into the games. It is a close school and it is the best for me. I know I made the right decision."
McKenzie was looking more seriously at LSU, Miami and other colleges early in the recruiting process, but that changed when he got to watch Auburn's new offensive system under the direction of coordinator Al Borges. That had a major impact on his decision to choose Auburn over those colleges as well as Alabama and others.
"He calls the right play for every down," McKenzie says. "Every down is a different play and it seems all of them work in some shape or form. He splits the tight end out and uses him in his offense."
Another one of the state's top prospects, Tommy Trott of Montgomery, is also seriously considering the Tigers and may be close to making a decision, too.
McKenzie says he has talked with Trott about the pair playing together at Auburn. "That is a good thing," McKenzie says. "We are two of the best tight ends in the nation. We see it as having the best tight end tandem in the country coming in."
Trott is expected to announce a decision as early as this week. Miami looks to be out of the picture so his finalists are Auburn and Alabama.
McKenzie says that he got plenty of support at home on his decision to be a Tiger. "I see how my family and friends love Auburn," he notes. "Auburn is a school, really, that everyone loves. Me going there will mean a lot to everyone--me, too, being close to my family."
McKenzie also says he is excited about arriving as a freshman at Auburn later this year with two of his friends from the Mobile area--defensive end Antonio Coleman from Williamson High and defensive tackle Sen'Derrick Marks from Vigor. Both of those players publically committed to the Tigers this week. He says the three, who were in Auburn this past weekend, have talked about playing together at Auburn and are excited about that.
McKenzie made 26 catches for 367 yards and 14 touchdowns as a junior. Running the ball more his senior season, the offense didn't get him the football as much but he still managed 15 catches for 200 yards and three touchdowns while also seeing some time at defensive end. He earned All-State honors as a senior in Class 6A.
Davidson High coach Fred Riley says the Tigers will be signing a talented football player. "With Gabe his best football is still ahead of him," Riley says. "He is an exceptional player. He works hard in the weight room. He is the best blocking tight end I have ever seen."