Jul 3, 2013; Beaverton, OR, USA; Running back Shai McKenzie (10) runs with the ball during the Nike 7on7 pool play at Nike World Headquarters. Mandatory Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
The Virginia Tech Hokies have given true freshmen opportnities to play in the past and the Hokies benefited from that last season with the success of players like Kendall Fuller, Brandon Facyson, and Jonathan McLaughlin. Frank Beamer has been willing to give true freshmen the chance to play immediately and there definitely are a few tre freshmen who could definitely gain some playing time this fall.
Shai McKenzie was probably the top running back commit for the Hokies in their Class of 2014 and also made the decision to enroll early. However, McKenzie was limited in Spring Practice due to the fact that he was still recovering from a torn ACL that he suffered in early September. McKenzie will likely be healthy enough to fully participate in the Hokies’ training camp and McKenzie will look to earn some playing time this fall.
In high school, Shai McKenzie proved that he had the potential to be a very good running back at the collegiate level with great speed, agility, and toughness to go along with good size and decent strength. McKenzie was able to find and take advantage of space throughout his high school career and was also willing to run between the tackles to get the job done. Despite tearing his ACL on September 13th, McKenzie still had 36 carries for 650 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns which is absolutely incredible.
Despite all the talent, the Hokies would be better off redshirting Shai McKenzie.
This might seem crazy to redshirt someone who has as much talent as McKenzie but the Hokies should be careful to make sre that McKenzie’s ACL is fully healed and stronger than it could possibly be. Normally, the recovery time for a torn ACL is 8 to 12 months so McKenzie should be completely healthy bt there is no reason why the Hokies can’t redshirt McKenzie at least to start the season to allow him to make that ACL stronger than ever.
Also, the Hokies already have plenty of talent at running back to allow themselves to do that with Trey Edmunds being the running back for the Hokies in the last couple of seasons. Marshawn Williams, J.C. Coleman, Chris Mangus, and Joel Caleb also provide quality depth behind Edmunds and there have been plenty of hints that some of these running backs might end up changing position.
Shai McKenzie should at least start the season as a redshirt though depending on how he does in practice and what else happens, the Hokies can always take away the redshirt. One thing is certain, McKenzie definitely is going to be very good for the Hokies in the future.