Woodville long snapper Mitchell McKenzie and kicker Blake Frazier were at practice one day when McKenzie decided to try his hand — or foot actually — at place-kicking.
“He kicked like a 40-yarder,” Frazier said. “He’s just a jack of all trades.”
McKenzie’s versatility — he was also Woodville’s starting center on offense and middle linebacker on defense — has played a key role in the Panthers’ success the past three seasons.
Now McKenzie is taking that versatility to the next level, signing with The University of the Cumberlands during a signing ceremony Thursday at Woodville High School.
McKenzie chose The Cumberlands over Illinois schools MacMurray College and Judson University.
“It was closest to home and I got a good scholarship deal,” McKenzie said. “Coach [Matt] Rhymer’s got a great program. [The Cumberlands has] a chance to win a national championship this year. I’ve got to put in some work to get some playing time.”
The Cumberlands is an NAIA school in Williamsburg, Kentucky and plays in the Mid-South Conference. The Patriots went 10-2 last season and finished the year ranked No. 11 in the NAIA Football Championship Division.
McKenzie, who also played basketball at Woodville, will be a linebacker and long snapper at The Cumberlands.
“[The] Cumberlands recruited him for linebacker, but when they found out he could long snap, too, they were excited about that too,” said Woodville head coach Jay Powell.
“That’s awesome for him. Proud of the time and effort and commitment he’s put in to football,” said Woodville head coach Jay Powell. “You got to have a good GPA and ACT to make it up there, so the effort he’s put in in the classroom, and that really helped him out to get that scholarship there. I’m proud of the way he took care of things in the classroom and football.”
McKenzie, an 2018 Class 1A All-Region 7 team selection, led the Panthers in tackles with 69 along with two fumble recoveries.
McKenzie is planning to major in secondary education and wants to teach and coach someday.
Powell said McKenzie was like a “coach on the field.” His father, James “Spud” McKenzie, was Woodville’s defensive coordinator.
“I loved playing for coach Powell and playing with my teammates, and that was nice, playing for dad,” Mitchell McKenzie said, adding his dad and his conversations would go from being about Woodville football to “talking about Cumberlands football now.”