KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Tennessee defensive tackle Kahlil McKenzie announced on his Instagram account on Sunday night that he’ll forgo his senior year in an attempt to be taken in the NFL draft this spring.
The 6-foot-3, 320-pound McKenzie surprised teammates and coaches with the decision as he’s coming off a junior season that saw him register just 2 sacks and 3.5 tackles for loss — none in the final five games.
McKenzie appeared to be a strong fit for the 3-4 system incoming Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt often utilizes, and his departure is another blow to the Vols’ depth on the defensive line.
McKenzie joins former Tennessee defensive back Rashaan Gaulden and tailback John Kelly in declaring early for the draft.
Gaulden and Kelly were arguably the most impactful players for the Vols on their respective sides of the ball last season.
McKenzie was popular with teammates and a fan favorite with his warm, engaging personality and playful nature.
The Vols returning defensive tackles are: Shy Tuttle (6-2, 308); Eric Crosby (6-1, 336); Quay Picou (6-1, 280); Kivon Bennett (6-1, 275); Paul Bain (6-5, 290); and Alexis Johnson (6-4, 300).
It’s an area that Pruitt has looked to shore up in recruiting, adding Greg Emerson (6-3, 280) from Jackson, Kingston Harris (6-4, 272) from IMG Academy and Brant Lawless (6-3, 300) from Nashville Christian in the 2018 class so far.