Photographer - Mike Carlson

Massive Tennessee lineman ready for better year after getting smaller


Kahlil McKenzie was a massive 350 pounds when he stepped foot on Tennessee's campus last year. Normally coaches would gush over that kind of girth because he would plug gaps just by standing there. However, the staff and McKenzie himself demand excellence from the big man so he decided to drop some weight.

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McKenzie wants to be more mobile and really make offensive linemen work to stop him and losing weight is a great start to get to that point. It was a bit of a surprise to the 6'3" defensive tackle though as he told the media on Tuesday.

"It's a great feeling getting back down to that weight," McKenzie said. "You just feel a lot better. You just feel a lot better, and you can move a lot better. You're not winded as easily and things like that. It's just a great feeling."


McKenzie laughed when asked to note anything specific that's different for him as a fitter, trimmer player.

"Well, I'm not dying by like the midway part of practice," he said. "It's being able to perform at a higher level in practice. That's really what helped me for the most part, you know? Being able to go full speed at practice. I've got guys around me who are always going full speed -- you know, the defensive line, the offense.

"Everybody's going full speed. We're at that point now where guys can just go out every single rep. It's good to, you know, be able to keep up with them and be in condition like that."

McKenzie said that everyone kept him accountable from the dietitians to his teammates all the way to his coaches and the conditioning staff. McKenzie's newfound speed has earned him some praise from his teammates and the offensive linemen are saying he is already becoming even more of a handful. Instead of just bearing down and getting ready for the push, now they have to actually pull and get themselves in position for when he hits them.


Tennessee is certainly hoping that teaming him with Jonathan Kongbo, Derek Barnett, Jalen Reeves-Maybin and Darrin Kirkland Jr. will yield some favorable results this year in the win column.


[h/t 247Sports]