Of all the players who represented Cincinnati in the Big 33, I was most eager to watch Pennsylvania product Donnell McKenzie of Aliquippa Senior High School. The late Bearcat recruit looks great on film, but I wanted to see him perform in person and judge for myself what type of player is headed to the campus of Clifton in a few days.
Heading onto the field at Hershey Stadium before the game, I went searching for McKenzie. Soon I stood face to face with the newest Bearcat. After one look I was sold the Bearcats were getting a special athlete with some great skills. A few plays later I became a big Donnell McKenzie fan.
Standing 6'1, 243 lbs. of solid football player. Donnell McKenzie has the body to come in and compete for playing time as a true freshman.
McKENZIE BEFORE THE BIG 33 GAME
During the game McKenzie found himself going against some of his new teammates from his linebacker position and tight end position. Each time he showed great speed, strength and athletic ability during his match-ups with Curtis Smith. With these two players on the Bearcats defense I expect great things in a few years.
While the story of how Donnell McKenzie became a Bearcat is special, it's also one the talented McKenzie has learned from.
McKenzie battles Bearcat Curtis Smith
Student athletes sometimes forget about the student part until it's almost too late. McKenzie almost missed the boat during this past years recruiting season. Heading into his senior year McKenzie would need to post some great grades and work to earn the scholarship he deserved for his athletic ability. But college football is a business and coaches can't take chances on players who may not make the numbers needed to accept a college scholarship.
While Aliquippa is known for sending the majority of its players to Pittsburgh, McKenzie wasn't in a position to sign on signing day and watched the Panthers use up all their scholarships. But while the Panthers gave up on McKenzie, Coach Tressel stood by and provided a full scholarship to become a Bearcat.
While the Big 33 is still a high school game, it's filled with some of the best talent to grace football fields across this country. The level of play displayed by McKenzie proved he's got what it takes.
To view our short video interview with Donnell McKenzie please click here. DONNELL McKENZIE VIDEO