Smart on Isaiah McKenzie: “I love guys who just want to play:

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Smart on Isaiah McKenzie: “I love guys who just want to play:

Isaiah McKenzie (16) has his eyes on the prize, the endzone
Isaiah McKenzie (16) has his eyes on the prize, the endzone

During his press conference yesterday, Kirby Smart was asked about Isaiah McKenzie and his performance against Missouri.

‘’He’s gotten better. He understands the offense. He’s a year older. He’s bigger and tougher. He’s gotten open, and the offense has catered to him. We’ve got a lot of plays that we’ve designed for him. That doesn’t always continue. When you become a feature, you can ask Nick Chubb about that. People start keying on you. I’m very thankful for the way he works and that Jim and the offensive staff use him in the way they do. My biggest thing with him is ball security, and we work hard on that every day. He’s gotta continue to get better with that.’’

Smart went on to say:

‘’We didn’t recruit him when I was at Alabama. First time I noticed him was when he returned kicks here. Some friends of mine told me that he was a late signee that Coach Richt stood on the table for. A lot of the guys on staff didn’t want to take him. He (Richt) stood up and said ‘we’re taking the guy. It’s my call, and he’s a special player. I’m glad they did. I’m very grateful. He was a teammate of Sony’s, obviously, but from what I heard he never even came on a visit.
‘’I won’t say it’s a concern physically because he’s a really tough guy. I just worry about the wear and tear. At 175 pounds you can’t take too many of those deals. He practices the same way. He’s so competitive in practice. He returns every punt. He returns the punts for our ‘looks’ squad and then he returns the punts for our return team. Then he goes back on kickoff coverage and returns kicks. He catches every ball; he wants to get in every rep sometimes, and he’s in for the ones and the twos. I love guys that just want to play. We had a guy at Alabama just like that…Javier Arenas. He just wanted to play, and the game on Monday through Thursday was just as important as the game on Saturday, which is crazy. Isaiah’s that way. We watch his GPS. We try to see what his yardage is and his miles per hour, and when they decline we shut him down, which he doesn’t like.’’

Kirby’s remarks begin at the 0:45 mark in the video below.


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Greg is closing in on 15 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.