"I Love The School"

The mother of Auburn's newest commitment is really impressed by the program her son chose to attend.

Mobile, Ala.–-Much has been made this season of Auburn's team unity and togetherness on the way to a perfect 13-0 season and a SEC Championship. While it proved to be just the thing for the Tigers, it has also paid dividends on the recruiting trail as several commitments have mentioned that as a deciding factor for choosing Auburn.

The latest to do so is 6-3, 220 tight end Gabe McKenzie from Davidson High. Citing Auburn's closeness as one of his many reasons for choosing the Tigers, he said that there is no doubt he made the right decision when picking Coach Tommy Tuberville's program.

"I love the school," McKenzie said. "I'm ready to spend the next few years there. I know when I go there everybody is going to take care of me. That's important."

McKenzie sits with his mother before making his decision public.

While that is important for Gabe, it was a huge factor for his mother Kathy McKenzie. Working midnights as a nurse to keep Gabe and his two sisters on the right track and taken care of, she said that she felt very comfortable with Auburn and everything about the school. She said she's now ready to turn him over and let him become a man under Tuberville's care.

"To know that Gabe is not too far away is wonderful for me," she said. "The staff has let me know that I can come up and visit him any time I like. Being close is wonderful. This day means a lot to me with him having a paid full scholarship because I had not prepared for him going to school and with me working so many hours I don't even know if I could qualify for a grant or a loan, something that I would have to pay back. I don't have to worry about anything. Once he sets foot on campus everything he needs is there. I feel comfortable with the Auburn staff. They are great people. I just feel like there is a good sense of unity there and releasing my son into their arms I feel a peace there.

"I'm very proud of Gabriel, very proud of him because of his grades," she added. "He's very intelligent and very smart and kept his grades up. To play ball as well is awesome. I'm proud of him because I've never had a problem with Gabriel so far as with schools or teachers. He's never been any trouble, suspended or anything. He's always been a great kid. A very good kid."

Despite his lack of ideal size for a tight end right now, McKenzie makes up for that with a strong frame and a physical presence on the field. Showing good speed after the catch, McKenzie is a threat to take the ball the distance on any catch. However, Davidson Coach Fred Riley said that the future is bright because of McKenzie's work ethic and character.

"He gets on people and stays on people," coach said. "He just has that knack for blocking people with his feet and maintaining his balance that very few of them have. He's only 220 pounds right now. He's going to grow into a 250 pound kid that can run and catch and do everything you need at the tight end position in an Al Borges offense. The bottom line is, a lot of the reason he chose Auburn was because of Al. That had a lot to do with it when he was communicating with me the systems in football. Al did a great job of convincing him that the tight end position was an integral part of their style of offense and that he would fit there and help him meet his goals.

"They are getting a special kid," Riley added. "He has handled this so well and not allowed it to affect him. He's still one of the first guys on the field and one of the last guys to leave work ethic-wise, working in the weight room. He didn't turn into a prima donna, he handled it well. They are getting a gem."

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