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March 30, 2013
4-star RB has Hogs among favorites
The Razorbacks pulled off a recruiting upset by landing Alex Collins of out Florida in 2013, and they're hoping to do it again next February with another four-star running back in Shai McKenzie of Washington (Penn.).
McKenzie, 6-0, 212, recently trimmed his list of options from 40 schools down to 15 favorites, with Arkansas being one of five SEC members to make the cut. He said on Friday that there were a couple of reasons behind his decision to keep the Hogs in play.
"I feel like Arkansas made the cut because they're in the SEC and it's powerhouse football," McKenzie said. "I really didn't know too much about Arkansas but I did a little homework going in and found out that they like to run the football.
"Also, I was really close with the new coaching staff that came from Wisconsin. Most of it had to do with my relationship with those guys."
McKenzie, who rushed for 2,700 yards and 42 touchdowns as a junior last fall, is being recruited by new running backs coach Joel Thomas.
"I talk to Coach Thomas about once a week," the four-star prospect said. "He'll hit me up on Facebook, I'll call him and we'll talk. We've got a great relationship."
In addition to the Razorbacks, McKenzie's list of favorites also includes Florida State, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Michigan, Michigan State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, West Virginia and Wisconsin.
Judging by that list, it's clear to see that distance from home won't be a huge factor for McKenzie.
"No sir, not at all. My family is from all over, so it really doesn't matter," he said. "I've got family in Alabama, Atlanta, and a lots of other places around the country."
It's still early in the process, but McKenzie knows of a few schools he'll be visiting unofficially this spring and summer.
"I think I'm going to be visiting Georgia, Georgia Tech and Florida State in June. Other than that I really don't have any set up right now," McKenzie said.
The Razorbacks will have a total of five scholarship running backs on campus once Collins and Denzell Evans arrive in a couple of months. Of those five the oldest is redshirt-sophomore Kody Walker.
The Hogs have a solid verbal commitment from North Little Rock (Ark.) running back Juan Day for the Class of 2014, but look for them to try and land a couple more between now and February.