Big surprise: Tennessee DL Kahlil McKenzie declares for 2018 NFL Draft
Who saw this one coming?
Tennessee is losing another player early to the 2018 NFL Draft as junior defensive lineman Kahlil McKenzie announced he is declaring for the draft Sunday evening. After arriving in Knoxville with much fanfare, the huge lineman has failed to live up to his five-star hype during his three seasons on Rocky Top. Now with a change in coaching philosophy, perhaps McKenzie feels it’s best to move on to the NFL.
McKenzie becomes the third Tennessee player to declare early for the 2018 NFL Draft, joining running back John Kelly and defensive back Rashaan Gaulden.
While the huge lineman, he’s listed by Tennessee at 6-foot-2, and a generous 320-pounds, never quite lived up to his high school billing, he’s an intriguing prospect in the eyes of some NFL evaluators. McKenzie was mentioned as one of the biggest sleepers of the 2018 NFL Draft by Matt Miller of Bleacher Report back in the summer (as well as one of the biggest question marks) and was also listed as a top 100 NFL prospect by Chris Trapasso of CBS Sports last offseason.
Here’s the message McKenzie posted to Instagram announces his decision:
Where do I start… I still remember the first time I put on my dads old beat up Bowl Jersey and helmet; coming to Knoxville for whatever reason to spend time with family; going to the rooftop of Neyland Stadium and getting chills looking into that empty stadium… Well, first things first, Lord thank you for everything you have blessed me with, thank you for a family that loves me, supports me and guides me, thank you for your never-ending love and the lessons you teach me everyday. Secondly, I want to say thank you to the city of Knoxville and the ENTIRE VolNation for embracing me through the ups and downs through these past 3 years. Knoxville will always be my second home and I will love y’all tomorrow as much as I do now and have my entire life. Third, I want to thank my coaches for the opportunity they gave me to attend this amazing University. I also want to thank my teammates for pushing me everyday, I love every last one of y’all. The memories I have with y’all make me smile and proud to have been your teammate. I have so much love in my heart for all of y’all and hope that you can have that same love for me at the next level. I will be foregoing my senior season and entering the 2018 NFL Draft. Lord, the rest is in Your gracious and powerful hands. Now I’m on to the next chapter!