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March 23, 2011Regardless of the classification, college programs usually can spot Division 1 talent at the smallest of schools. Such is the case with Trinity Episcopal (Natchez, Miss.) junior running back Jaborian McKenzie and the proof is in the numbers.
Last year as a junior, McKenzie rushed for 812 yards and eight touchdown on just 58 rushing attempts and helped lead Trinity to a perfect season and the MAIS Class A state title. He also had 35 catches for 797 yards and 14 more scores and had 676 return yards and five touchdowns.
McKenzie, who owns early offers from Vanderbilt and Southern Miss, was also a playmaker on defense with eight interceptions and he returned five of those picks for touchdowns.
"It was great to get those early offers," said the 5-foot-9 and 180-pound McKenzie. "I don't think it is a factor playing at a small school. If you have the talent and can play then you will get noticed."
Of course, Trinity Episcopal is no stranger to producing Division 1 prospects, and McKenzie is following up that tradition.
"We've had Steven Ridley and Chad Ridley and then R.J. Fleming," said McKenzie. "So we've had a lot of good players and at times, it can be hard to follow up that tradition. People look at you and expect you to do the same or more. But it's also good to have those expectations and it makes you work hard every single day. And that is what I am doing right now, just running track and working out with football. I am doing a lot of weight lifting and also working on my route running and those techniques."
McKenzie has been busy of late checking out various campuses and meeting other coaching staffs that are actively recruiting him.
"I have been to Mississippi State, Southern Miss, Louisiana Tech, Memphis and Louisiana-Lafayette," said McKenzie. "I am getting interest from all those schools and I think Mississippi State, Memphis and La. Tech could be close to offering. It's been good to be able to visit schools and compare the programs and see where I may fit in the best.
"Some schools are recruiting me as a slot receiver and others as a running back. My position really doesn't matter a whole lot but I do like the slot a little better. I can get in open space more at that position, I believe."
Concerning the Bulldogs, McKenzie noted of his previous visit to Starkville with his plans to return this summer in hopes of continuing that strong relationship.
"I love Mississippi State and I love the tempo and what I saw with their program," said McKenzie. "Everything is great up there and it is great that I got to meet their coaches. They told me they want to get me to their camp and see how I peform under them. They are recruiting me as a running back and they are definitely at the top of my list."
While McKenzie continues to garner Division 1 attention, he said he is taking his time with recruiting and just waiting to see what other offers may be around the corner.
"I am just waiting to see what all might happen," said McKenzie. "I am just looking to see what offense fits me the best and what coaches I fit with the best."