Offensive Guard Jalen McKenzie has submitted his letter of intent to the USC Trojans today officially making him a Trojan. McKenzie is rated as a 3-Star player (out of 5) and 247 sports ranks him as the 24th best player in the country at the position. McKenzie had offers from several different schools including the UCLA Bruins, Tennessee Volunteers, Michigan Wolverines, LSU Tigers, Utah Utes and plenty of others. The 6’ 4.5”, 307 pound prospect is from Clayton Valley High School in Concord, California.
Head coach Clay Helton wants the Trojans to be balanced on offense and be able to effectively run the ball when everyone in the stadium knows you are going to run the ball. To achieve this goal the Trojans will need to win the line of scrimmage which requires great talent on the offensive line. 2016 starter Damien Mama opted to head to the NFL Draft early but the Trojans have a handful of other guards on the roster including Viane Talamaivao, Chris Brown, and a few players that can play both tackle and guard.
McKenzie comes from a strong football family as his dad is Reggie McKenzie, the General Manager of the Oakland Raiders and his brother Kahlil McKenzie is a stud for the Tennessee Volunteers. There is also talk that McKenzie may “blue-shirt” this season meaning his scholarship will not count towards the Trojans’ scholarship total until 2018 but he can only practice with the team his freshman season in 2017.
“McKenzie may not be the most athletic offensive lineman, but his excellent pad level allows him to be effective in run blocking. McKenzie has tremendous size and measurables for the guard position, and this is clear when he is able to get his weight behind his blocks. Using a strong leg drive and a low pad level, McKenzie can easily push lineman back to the second level. His first punch could improve, but when he is able to get his hands in place and drive his legs, McKenzie can be a handful for opposing defensive linemen.”