Gerard Martinez

Offensive tackle Jalen McKenzie proving himself again

Jalen McKenzie was one of the more physically impressive players at The Regional Opening last month as schools watch his return from knee surgery closely.

Concord (Calif.) Clayton Valley offensive tackle Jalen McKenzie used the May Evaluation Period to reintroduce himself to college coaches nationwide. 

After injuring his ACL last year, McKenzie missed his entire junior season. Working out for schools last month, McKenzie hit the the Opening Regional in Richmond (Calif.) hoping to prove he is now 100-percent healthy. 

“I practiced for spring ball with my team, but The Opening was the first big event I did since my rehab,” said McKenize. “I was excited and ready. I’ve been working on showing people what I can do for a long time.”

Indeed, McKenzie’s upside may end up transforming him into an even more dedicated player going forward. 

“It made me appreciate football way more,” said McKenize. “Having to sit out and watch my team play when I knew they needed me. Watching all these other kids get the offers I knew I was going to get… it’s makes me go harder in everything I do now."

USC, Michigan, LSU, Tennessee, Arizona, Cal and Oregon all came by Clayton Valley High School to see McKenzie work out multiple times. 

“I just stay humble,” said McKenzie. “You just have to grind and let things take care of themselves. 

“It’s a dream come true when a college you’ve been watching play for years on T.V. comes to see you. When they call you and talk to you like they want you to come play for them… it’s really nice.”

Of course, McKenzie is not new to the recruiting process. His brother, Kahlil, was the nation’s No. 1 ranked recruit for the 2016 class. Kahlil committed to play for Tennessee, and with father Reggie also being a Volunteer alum, most expect Jalen to do the same. 

However, there is another school Jalen has his eye on. 

“I’ve been loving USC since I was 5-years-old watching Reggie Bush run up and down the field,” said McKenize. “I’ve been down there and I love L.A.. It’s a cool campus in a cool area. 

“I think I’m going to be at their satellite camp up here, but I’m also going to the Rising Stars Camp down there.”

MacKenzie has had increased contact with USC over the past two months. 

“I’ve been talking a lot with USC’s offensive line coach Neil Callaway,” said McKenzie. “He likes me, and feels I can come in and play tackle for them.

“They’ve got some boys coming in and he wants to build that offensive line. They got E.J. Price, Frank Martin… last year and they already have some good players. He’s trying to build the great wall of USC down there.”

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