Every day until fall camp begins for Ohio State we will profile a different Buckeye football player. Today that player is redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Jaden McKenzie. Yesterday it was tight end Sam Hart. You can find all of the daily Scoop Profiles right here.
No. 90 | Defensive Tackle | 6-2 290 | Redshirt Sophomore | Wake Forest High School | Wake Forest, North Carolina
How’d He Get Here
Big-time offers started rolling in for Jaden McKenzie during his junior year. The in-state North Carolina Tar Heels offered him in November of 2017, followed by offers from West Virginia, Duke, and Wisconsin in the winter. Ohio State came into the picture with an offer in June, followed by an offer from Clemson two days later. McKenzie took an official visit to OSU for the 2018 Michigan game. He committed to the Buckeyes less than a month later. McKenzie was an incredibly active defensive tackle in high school, tallying 174 tackles, 44.5 tackles for loss, and 19.5 sacks as a junior and senior. He was ranked the No. 58 defensive tackle in the 2019 recruiting class and the No. 765 player overall.
Jaden McKenzie has been injured for much of his first two years on the Ohio State campus. He played in two games as a true freshman and then two games last year. This year he walks into a defensive tackle situation with four seniors who are going to command the bulk of the playing time. That being said, there is still wiggle room here if McKenzie can stay healthy and show defensive line coach Larry Johnson what he can do at full strength.
What to Like
When Jaden McKenzie was being recruited, Larry Johnson loved his ability to get into the backfield. But McKenzie wasn’t just a north-south guy because he could also get up and down the line and make plays outside. You don’t average over 80 tackles a year as a junior and senior without being able to chase the ball. McKenzie is a defensive tackle who will continue to chase a play, which is sometimes half the battle for guys on the interior.
What’s the Ceiling This Year?
Jaden McKenzie hasn’t really been able to show what he can do as a Buckeye and nobody is more excited about changing that than he is. His ceiling this year is a spot in the rotation, but he’s got some veterans in front of him. Patience can be a virtue, but this being McKenzie’s third year on campus, he is probably tired of waiting and he wants to play. If he’s finally healthy, then he will be able to control whether or not playing time happens.
The Buckeyes could be losing four defensive tackles after this season, which is going to greatly reduce the depth at the position. It will also free up some starting jobs for a guy like Jaden McKenzie. McKenzie is probably more of a three technique right now and down the road, but Larry Johnson may choose to move his guys around on the inside. Next year as a fourth-year junior, McKenzie should be able to handle whatever spot he is assigned. He just needs to finally find his footing and then we’ll see where that takes him.