Reggie McKenzie had plenty of reasons to assume the duties of an NFL scout during Tennessee’s pro day on Wednesday.
First, he’s the general manager of the Oakland Raiders, so he can determine who scouts which players. Second, he’s a Knoxville native and played for Tennessee from 1981-84. Lastly, his son, Kahlil McKenzie, is a budding star on the Vols’ defensive line and quickly becoming a fan favorite. . So, while Tennessee’s pro day may have lacked some star power, McKenzie provided more than enough name recognition.
“It’s always good, No. 1, to come back to this place to see what we got,” the elder McKenzie said.
Tennessee had a handful of players working out on Wednesday that figure to get interest from the NFL. However, it remains to be seen if Tennessee can produce a player that is deemed worth drafting. McKenzie said that whole concept of being drafted is overrated.
“It really doesn’t matter, first round, second round or free agent,” he said.
McKenzie knows what it’s like to be underrated. He wasn’t picked until the 10th round before playing seven years in the NFL. Now, with just seven rounds in the NFL draft , he wouldn’t have had his name called as an NFL selection.
“I would have been one of those free agents,” McKenzie said.
Several of Tennessee’s players participating in the pro day may also find themselves looking for a team after the draft is complete. Safety Brian Randolph and offensive lineman Kyler Kerbyson both have a shot to be drafted after strong performances on Wednesday, but there’s certainly no guarantees.
“That would be a great blessing for me,” Randolph said. “That’s what I’m praying for. I can’t explain how I would feel if I got that.”
Said McKenzie, “It really doesn’t matter. These guys gave it all. They competed.”
The Vols are trying to begin a new streak of drafted players. Before last season, the Vols had a player selected in the NFL draft every year since 1964. Next year’s Tennessee pro day figures to be amped up from Wednesday’s edition. With more talent on the roster, the Vols figure to send several players to the NFL combine and have even more players work out on Tennessee’s campus next year.
“Hopefully real busy,” McKenzie said of next year’s Tennessee pro day. “Coach (Butch) Jones has got it back on track.”
McKenzie has another reason to follow the Vols since his son, Kahlil, is beginning to impress coaches and teammates alike in his first spring practice with the team as a rising sophomore.
“This is his first spring so it’s new to him,” the elder McKenzie said. “He’s enjoying getting a lot of reps and trying to learn the position, learn the technique and trying to learn from the new defensive coordinator and trying to see how he fits in.
“His No. 1 goal is trying to get in condition and trying to get his weight down. He’s working pretty good at that … We’ll see how it goes. Just keep it up.”