Bob Shoop hypes up former five-star recruit poised for big season on Rocky Top
The hype following Kahlil McKenzie’s commitment to Tennessee only seemed to grow larger each and every day until the massive defensive lineman arrived to campus last summer. Many fans expected the former five-star recruit to come in and dominate right away, however after sitting out his senior season of high school ball and suffering an injury in fall camp, McKenzie initially failed to deliver on his incredible expectations.
Arriving to Knoxville at over 340-pounds, McKenzie wasn’t at an ideal playing weight, something the Tennessee coaching staff wanted the sophomore to focus on heading into the 2016 season. According to recent comments by defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, the message was received loud and clear.
In anticipation for fall camp, McKenzie dropped over 20 pounds this offseason. Following the weight loss, Shoop described his defensive tackle as being ‘in the best shape of his life.’
“Kahlil’s done a really good job,” Shoop said Friday according to Wes Rucker of Go Vols Xtra 247. “He’s gotten his body into shape. He’ll never be really light, because he’s got such a large lower body — I mean, an incredibly large lower body — but he’s really improved his athletic ability.
“He’s in the best shape of his life, and I think he’s excited and ready to go.”
Hearing that has got to have Tennessee fans excited about McKenzie’s potential heading into Year 2 on Rocky Top. With fellow sophomore defensive tackle Shy Tuttle continuing to rehab from a season-ending injury suffered in last season’s Georgia game, the Vols will need McKenzie to step up early in the season until Tuttle returns to the lineup.
His weight loss effort in the offseason doesn’t appear to have hampered his strength either, as this video of McKenzie was recently posted showing off his incredible strength in the weight room:
Considering McKenzie will enter the 2016 season having spent over a year in Tennessee’s strength and conditioning program, the Vols’ coaching staff is clearly expecting the giant defensive tackle to take his game to another level this season. If Tennessee expects to meet the massive expectations set for them this offseason, it need McKenzie to do his part in improving the Vols No. 9-ranked SEC rush defense from a season ago.
Judging by Shoops’ comments, as well as comments from Tennessee insiders close to the program, McKenzie has done everything asked of him to do just that for the upcoming season. Now it’s time for McKenzie to prove his five-star status on the field.