The Scout four-star defensive end grew up hearing tales of the "glory days" from his father, Reggie McKenzie, who grew up in Knoxville, played linebacker at Tennessee and is the current general manager of the Oakland Raiders.
"Yeah, I grew up hearing a lot about the Vols from my dad, so I've always kept a close eye on them since I can really remember," McKenzie said. "I always heard stories of games they played in, the tradition and all of that. I love those stories."
McKenzie said he wouldn't mind making his own memories on Rocky Top, saying the thought of following in his father's footsteps is more than appealing.
"I was very excited to hear (Tennessee) offered me," McKenzie told InsideTennessee. "That was a really cool moment. I like the idea of living, going to and playing at the place my dad played – I really like that. I really like Tennessee."
That said, McKenzie isn't close to making a decision any time soon and said his father isn't pushing him toward the Vols.
The 6-foot-3, 240-pounder went as far as saying his father hasn't brought up the words "Tennessee" or "Vols" since his recruitment started heating up.
"My dad is being awesome about everything and it's totally all my decision. It's just got to be for me," McKenzie said. "He just wants to make sure it's the right place for me. He hasn't pressured me or anything like that."
McKenzie currently claims nine scholarship offers, including Duke, Ole Miss, Illinois, Washington and Washington State. He said he wants to take several visits before he even thinks about pulling the trigger.
"I just really want to enjoy the process and make sure I make the right decision," McKenzie said.
The first of many upcoming visits will be to his "new" in-state schools.
McKenzie recently moved from Wisconsin, where his father was working in the Packers' organization, to Concord, Calif. He hopes to unofficially visit UCLA and Cal during the summer.
"I just want to take everything slow," he said. "I want to make the right choice for me."
McKenzie said his relationship with a coaching staff and the feel of a school's town and campus will matter most in his recruitment.
A close second, he said, is tradition and a passionate fan base. And McKenzie knows a place where he can find both of those.
"I really want to go to a place where fans really care about the team," McKenzie told IT. "And I know I can find that in Knoxville for sure."
McKenzie said he saw the Vols play at Neyland Stadium back in 2010 and remembers being "awed" by the game-day atmosphere.
"It was crazy. It was packed," McKenzie said. "We got to tailgate before the game and all that. I just remember it being a lot of fun."
It's been a while since McKenzie saw a game in person, but he caught several Tennessee games on TV this season.
McKenzie said he liked the effort he saw from the young Vols and believes the program is headed in the right direction.
"They didn't have the year they wanted this year, I really do think it's only going to keep getting better. I watched a couple games. I really liked the way they competed in a lot of games. They really showed heart, which was good to see. They were in a lot of games," McKenzie told IT. "They're just saying that their future looks bright – and it really does with all those recruits they have coming in. They have a lot of good guys coming in and I really like what coach (Butch) Jones has done and says and all that, so, it's one of the teams I follow in college football. Well, I always have."