UM In Running For Big-Time TE

When Gabe McKenzie first began playing football, he wanted people to know what he was capable of. "My 8th grade year I didn't really know anything because I just started playing," McKenzie said.

"I wanted to learn everything because I wanted to show people what I could do out there. My freshman year I played receiver. Then my sophomore year I got moved to tight end but I was mostly just blocking. My junior year is when they started throwing the ball to me and that's when I showed people what I could do."

McKenzie, who began the season as a defensive end, is now one of the top tight end prospects in the entire nation. As he leads his team into the 2nd round of the state playoffs this week, McKenzie has 14 receptions for 150 yards and three scores on the season.

"I think I have good hands and good fundamentals," he said. "Whenever I go to college, I just need to work on my speed and gain a little weight."

At 6-foot-3 1/2 and 215 pounds, McKenzie is getting plenty of recruiting attention from some of the nation's top programs.

"Right now Auburn is my leader," he said. "I went to some of their games this season. It's close to home and they're really starting to turn it around, having a great year. Then Miami is right behind them. After that, I'm trying to set something up with Alabama, Georgia, and LSU."

The talented tight end prospect said he's very high on the Hurricanes and talks to UM coach Mario Cristobal each week.

"You look at Miami and what, you got the three best tight ends in the pros," he said. "Winslow, Shockey, and Bubba Franks. This year they have a guy who will go high in the draft. It's like a tight ends factory down there. Maaan, those dudes are amazing when it comes to producing tight ends. I'd like to see what I can do in that system. A player like me, who runs a 4.49, would get there and probably not even be their fastest tight end. They probably have guys running 4.4's."

McKenzie, a full academic qualifier, said in talking to Cristobal, he believes the Hurricanes plan on signing two tight ends this year.

"He's trying to get me and the 6-7 dude from Texas (Martellus Bennett)," he said. "They have Greg (Olsen) coming back but that's about it. I know if I do the work and I put in the time that those guys I mentioned earlier put in, I'll play. I know I'm capable of passing guys up if I'm given the chance."

So what will it take for the Hurricanes to unseat the Tigers as his top choice?

"A lot will depend on my visits," he said. "I'll be able to really get to know what's going on and be able to compare them even more. I haven't been to Miami yet but I've been to Auburn already."

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