McKenzie, Notre Dame football go their separate ways

TYLER JAMES
South Bend Tribune

The saga of Notre Dame’s recruitment of Isaiah McKenzie appears to have come to a close.

The Irish have reportedly parted ways with the senior wide receiver prospect that once tried to commit to the program in October.

“It’s not a surprise because it started to evolve this way over the last few days,” said 247Sports national recruiting writer Steve Wiltfong. “I think Notre Dame just got tired of the way the situation was going and decided to cut bait.”

The news, first reported by Blue and Gold Illustrated of the 247Sports Network, came following a visit between McKenzie and Irish recruiting coordinator Tony Alford. During that meeting the 5-foot-8, 170-pound prospect from American Heritage School in Plantation, Fla., was reportedly unwilling to commit to his previously planned official visit to Notre Dame for this weekend. Without that visit, the relationship between the Irish and McKenzie will essentially end.

McKenzie’s recruitment, which started with a weeklong visit to Notre Dame last summer, was filled with twists and turns. McKenzie was unable to make an official visit to Notre Dame in October because he had yet to record a test score on a college admissions exam.

Later that month, McKenzie announced at his school’s Senior Night that he had committed to Notre Dame. However, the Irish program was unable to accept his commitment at that time because of his clouded academic qualifications

Earlier this month, McKenzie had reportedly improved his academic standing enough to join Notre Dame’s recruiting class, but he chose not to make a verbal commitment. Instead, McKenzie made visits to Florida and Ole Miss. Now, as 247Sports reported, it appears that Virginia Tech could receive a visit this weekend after extending an offer earlier this week.

McKenzie could not be reached for comment on Thursday.

The Irish targeted McKenzie for his playmaking abilities. As a senior on the state-champion American Heritage team, McKenzie rushed 22 times for 251 yards and seven touchdowns, caught 41 passes for 892 yards and seven touchdowns, and tallied 793 yards on punt and kickoff returns with six more touchdowns. A four-star prospect, McKenzie was ranked as the No. 23 wide receiver by 247Sports and No. 35 by Rivals.

“He’s a guy that would have brought a skill set to Notre Dame’s roster that they don’t necessarily have, but Notre Dame’s still in on some great players,” Wiltfong said. “Notre Dame’s more than OK at the receiver position.”

More bad news came later Thursday night when defensive tackle target Courtney Garnett committed to Oklahoma. However, Garnett, a three-star prospect, confirmed that he would still visit Notre Dame this weekend.

On the final weekend of the 2014 recruiting cycle the Irish will also host a pair of commits: newly pledged defensive tackle Pete Mokwuah and quarterback DeShone Kizer. Defensive tackle target Daniel Cage wraps up his official visit on Friday.

“It didn’t work out,” Wiltfong said. “Notre Dame’s moved on. They’re still in on Michiah Quick and JuJu Smith and they have talented receivers on the roster.”

Quick, a four-star prospect, and Smith, a five-star prospect, are scheduled to announce their commitments on Wednesday’s signing day. They could wind up playing wide receiver or defensive back in college.

Wide receiver target Isaiah McKenzie and Notre Dame have parted ways. Photo courtesy of SFHSSports.com.