Coach Brian Kelly received his 17th verbal commitment for the 2014 class Friday night (in surprise fashion) from Isaiah McKenzie (Fort Lauderdale, FL - American Heritage). He is listed at 5'9"/172 lbs.
McKenzie committed Friday night prior to his football game and news broke via Twitter.
Surprise! Isaiah McKenzie just committed to Notre Dame!— American Heritage (@AH__Athletics) October 18, 2013
He had been considered a strong Irish lean for some time, and follows former teammate Michael Deeb to South Bend. He also holds offers from Kentucky, Rutgers, West Virginia, South Florida and Michigan. He celebrated the announcement with the following in-game performace:
Touchdown Isaiah McKenzie!!! The Notre Dame commit returns a punt for a touchdown! Patriots lead 42-7— American Heritage (@AH__Athletics) October 19, 2013
Recruiting Service Rankings:
ESPN - 3 star (#55 ATH, #90 FL), 79 Grade
Rivals - 3 star (#73 WR, #77 FL), 5.6 Grade
Scout - 2 star (#144 RB)
247Sports - 4 star (#31 WR, #28 FL), 91 Grade (#242 Overall)
247Sports Composite Score - 3 star (0.8683), #490 Overall (#64 WR, #68 FL)
McKenzie will be a special teams contributor from Day One. Notre Dame hasn't had a punt returner with his skill set since Golden Tate. He should also be returning kickoffs, whether alongside or in place of GAIII. He is electric with the ball in his hands.
The special teams contributions are obvious, but he is a similar player to Davonte Neal was coming out of high school and the staff struggled figuring out a way to get him involved in the offense. At the high school level, he gets separation easily and is a threat to spread the field horizontally and stretch the field vertically. Some have made comparisons to Tavon Austin. He projects to be a true slot receiver for the Irish over his career. Assuming the staff finds a way to get him the football, he doesn't need a lot of space to be effective and explosive.
Welcome to Notre Dame Isaiah!