Posted: 1:26 pm Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
By Jay Black
Isaiah McKenzie is so much fun.
He’s so fast and so agile he looks like he’s running on roller skates. Also, he’s the shortest player on the field. He almost looks like a kid driving a motorcycle with all the adults trying to catch.
They can’t and they don’t.
Before this season, the McKenzie show was just select viewing only. He was a return wizard and he was fantastic. He’s already tied for the school record with five total return TDs. Four on punts and one on a kickoff. That was in just two years.
The only problem was, Mark Richt couldn’t trust him as much as he’d like because he’d fumble or make bad decisions.
When you’re that good you think you can beat everybody. That doesn’t always work out.
But frankly, I thought the best McKenzie could ever be was the greatest return man in Georgia history. Not saying that’s a bad thing, but I never thought a guy so small could succeed as a key receiver in the SEC.
I mean, I’m basically McKenize. I’m 5-foot-8 and about 175 pounds. Of course he runs the 40-yard dash about four seconds faster than I do.
I’d have no chance competing in the SEC and I didn’t think McKenzie would be able to do much either.
Wow, have I been totally wrong.
“He’s a warrior,” said UGA head coach Kirby Smart. “He competes and his personality takes our team a long way.”
Does it ever.
Before this season, McKenzie was just a gadget guy. A secret weapon. He had 18 catches for 190 yards and 18 carries for 195 yards. Not bad, but not a difference maker.
Now the junior has transformed from just a side dish to the main entree. Raise your hand if you had this guy pegged as Georgia’s best offensive player and Nick Chubb down around No. 5?
Yeah that’s what I thought
But McKenzie is not only Georgia’s most important offensive player, but he’s probably the MVP of the entire team.
His speed and quickness are no joke and the rest of the country is starting to take notice. In fact, Pro Football Focus — one of the most respected analytical sites — says McKenzie is one of the top 10 most unstoppable players in college fotoball.
Their write up: ” Of his 305 yards, 181 of them have come after the catch. The Georgia receiver is so sudden in his cuts that it’s usually going to take more than one guy to chase him down in the open field.”
He’s tied for the SEC lead with four receiving TDs (he’s also got one rushing) and second in yards with 305. He’s clearly built a connection with Jacob Eason, being the only WR to catch a TD pass from the hot shot freshman this season. That includes the big game winner last week.
“It’s working,” said McKenzie after the Missouri finish. “I have faith in him and he has faith in me and that’s how are going to keep it and keep rolling with this thing.”
If they can keep it rolling, McKenzie is on pace for a record-setting season. Terrence Edwards owns the school record for receiving yards with 1,004. He is the only Bulldog to ever to 1,000 yards in a season. McKenzie has a shot to blow right past that if he can keep it up.
“None of that shocks me,” says Smart. “He’s full throttle. There’s some day in practice I wish he’d cut it down but he doesn’t believe in doing that.”
The question is, can he keep it going?
With all of Georgia’s struggles running the football, McKenzie now becomes a key cog in the offense that teams have to deal with. He’s Georgia’s number one wide out now and that deserves the other teams respect and attention. McKenzie won’t be sneaking up on anyone.
And let’s be honest, can a guy this little stay healthy with this large of a work load. McKenzie has yet to do it since he’s been in Athens.
It doesn’t happen often that a guy this small can be this effective in the SEC. Since 2008 only two players shorter than 5-10 has finished in the top 10 in the league in receiving yards. That was 5-foot-9 Jameon Lewis of Mississippi State and 5-8 Dexter McCluster at Ole Miss, who is actually a running back.
So what McKenzie is doing is not common. But it’s incredibly fun to watch.