Sam Webb: Just take me back to the season and tell me how things went for you on the football field this year.
Shai McKenzie: “Coming into my junior year, I know we lost a lot of seniors, but we worked hard in camp, and I knew I had to be a leader and step up at the sophomore season, and I knew it was going to get even better going into my junior year, but we progressed a lot through the season, and carried over my abilities from last season, and I matured a lot, and it helped.”
Sam Webb: Do you remember your stats from your sophomore season?
Shai McKenzie: “It was like 1,215 yards, like 285 carries, and 18 touchdowns.”
Sam Webb: Alright, your junior season?
Shai McKenzie: “Yes, 2,689, 42 rushing touchdowns, and 278 carries.”
Sam Webb: So what was the biggest difference in your game from one year to the next?
Shai McKenzie: “A lot of off-season work. I did track for my first year in my sophomore year. I went to state my first year. It helped a lot. I got faster, my explosion got better. I really didn’t work out too much my freshman year, or even my sophomore year, but I worked out before my junior season, got bigger, and it really helped for my junior year.”
Sam Webb: At this point, what’s your height, your weight, and your 40 time?
Shai McKenzie: “6’0, 212, and my fastest in front of a coach was 4.42 at Toledo.”
Sam Webb: So talk to me about your game. Is there a player in college or the pros that they kind of say ‘hey, Shai is kind of like this guy’?
Shai McKenzie: “I get Adrian Peterson a lot. I wore number 28 this year, so I guess that’s where a lot of people got that reference from. I’m more like a powerful running type of player, but real elusive, just like Adrian Peterson.”
Sam Webb: What schools have offered you scholarship offers thus far?
Shai McKenzie: “I have 11 scholarship offers. I think I can try to name them all. I just got West Virginia today, Tennessee, Rutgers, Toledo, Youngstown State, Pitt, Akron, Maryland, Duke, Connecticut, and Purdue.”
Sam Webb: I heard that Michigan made it by your school. When did they make it by, and what is Michigan saying to you right now?
Shai McKenzie: “They made it by about a month ago, but I know Mr. Funk, he’s coming next Thursday to check up on me, and they’re real interested. I know they’re close to offering me. They told me they don’t want to waste their time, so I’m going to try to give them more feedback, show them my interest toward Michigan because I know it’s a good program, so I can try to get that scholarship.”
Sam Webb: How long has Michigan been on you?
Shai McKenzie: “It’s only been like a month, a month and a little bit, but yeah, they just – my coach sent out my film to them, and they were real interested in contacting my coaches as soon as possible, and they’re looking for a type of running back like myself. So I started looking further into Michigan.”
Sam Webb: Did you grow up a fan of any particular school? I mean, were you a Pitt fan? Who did you grow up liking?
Shai McKenzie: “Honestly, I get that question a lot, but I watched everybody. I usually watched what was on TV. I really didn’t have a particular team. Just whatever was on, I usually just rooted for the underdog. Whatever was on, I just watched it, enjoyed it, because I love football.”
Sam Webb: Clearly Michigan is showing interest in you now, but prior to that did you have any interest in them? What do you know about Michigan at this point, if anything?
Shai McKenzie: “Honestly, I don’t know too much about Michigan. I watched the bowl game when they played South Carolina, and I knew that they look like they needed a running back. Overall I don’t know too much about Michigan. Honestly, I don’t know too much about any of these schools.”
Sam Webb: Have you haven’t been to visit any of these schools yet?
Shai McKenzie: “No, not yet. I just went to a Pitt football game, and that was it.”
Sam Webb: Let’s fast forward a little bit. Pretend you’re about to pick your school. What factors will play into that decision?
Shai McKenzie: “How interested the college is in me. I know a lot of athletes go to schools and they don’t play. I want to go somewhere where a school is actually going to use me. I can understand maybe sitting my freshman year, but after that I want to get it rolling. I know in the classroom I’m real good, so I just need to find the right team I fit in with, and I’m compatible with the coaches, and everything should fall in place.”
Sam Webb: You are being recruited by pro-style schools; you’re being recruited by spread schools. Is scheme going to be a factor for you?
Shai McKenzie: “My coach and even myself… my coach wants me to be in a pro-style offense. Honestly it really doesn’t matter to me as long as I’m going to get on the field and help out, and as long as the team’s actually going to run the football. I know there are teams who will just pass all game, but yeah, my coach believes my best fit is a pro-style offense, but in the end it’s all my decision.”
Sam Webb: Is distance from home going to be a factor for you in the grand scheme of things?
Shai McKenzie: “No, actually, I really want to get out and explore. I really haven’t left my area – like, living in Washington (PA) in a small town. My mom lives down south in Atlanta, so we’re spread pretty far, but other than that, I really haven’t gotten to get out and view the world, so I feel like getting out there, I’m going to be growing up, so actually I do want to go far.”
Sam Webb: I know you haven’t been out to a lot of places yet, but do you think you’re going to be getting out visiting schools in the spring, or is that something that’s going to wait until the summer?
Shai McKenzie: “Actually I might get out, hopefully in a couple weeks, hopefully I might go to Ohio State and go check out their facilities, because they’re looking to offer me, and I’m looking to show more interest toward them. It’s not a favorite, but I’m looking to try to get that scholarship, to have more options open. I’m going to possibly try to get to Rutgers, because it’s not too far, it’s around the way.”