Class Impact: Cortez Mckenzie to Miami

Class Impact: Cortez Mckenzie to Miami

Stefan Adams
2021 Lakewood (FL) LB Cortez Mckenzie committed to the Canes on Saturday night during Paradise Camp.

The 6-0, 195-pounder is currently unranked in the national rankings, as many class of 2021 prospects have not earned a rating yet. His commitment keeps Miami’s 2021 class ranking at #1 on 247Sports and #1 on Rivals.

The Player

Mckenzie’s Miami recruitment lasted just over a month, as he landed his UM offer in mid-May. He is also current teammates at Lakewood with 2020 DT commit Tre’von Riggins. In an injury-shortened 2018 during which he played 5 games, Mckenzie was still able to rack up big numbers, including 40 tackles, 6 sacks, 10 TFL, 1 INT returned for a touchdown, and 2 forced fumbles. He chose Miami over other offers from USF and Western Michigan, but I see much bigger offers coming down the pipeline in the near future for Mckenzie.

On film, Mckenzie is a hard-hitting linebacker that covers a lot of ground and plays with the desired level of aggression you want to see out of a second level defender. He shows the ability to be an exceptional outside linebacker that can contain the edge and shut down the run. Shows good technique in his open field tackling, breaking down and squaring his hips before wrapping up the ballcarrier.

A very athletic and explosive athlete with top-notch speed at the LB spot. I haven’t seen current testing numbers, but I’d be willing to bet Mckenzie is in the upper-tier for his position. His outstanding range comes equipped with an excellent burst to close and he is also energetic and disruptive in the backfield. Demonstrates that he could become an impact blitzer off the edge in a scheme such as Miami’s. Would like to see more out of him in coverage, but he has the raw tools to succeed there as well with more development. I see Mckenzie as a glove fit for the striker role in Miami's defense and that is exactly where Miami has him pegged as of now. Ultimately, an exciting prospect with a ton of upside.

The Class

Mckenzie is the 11th commit overall (at the time) in the 2021 class and the third linebacker in the class, along with North Miami (FL) 4-star Chamon Metayer and South Dade (FL) 3-star Tyler Johnson. Miami is going to keep recruiting the position knowing that decommitments can always happen and there is also a legitimate possibility that Metayer outgrows linebacker and moves down to defensive end in college. With the Canes set to take a large number of linebackers in the 2020 class, UM can afford to be selective here in 2021.

Miami is after a ton of 2021 linebackers right now that are also reciprocating that interest with visits. In fact, 5 2021 linebacker targets with UM offers came to Paradise just this weekend and they included: Sandalwood (FL) 4-star Branden Jennings, Upland (CA) 4-star Jonathan Flowe, Hallandale (FL) 3-star Gaethan Bernadel, Rockledge (FL) 3-star Zachary Lovett, and Miami Senior (FL) 3-star Pat Payton. All are very talented prospects and competition is going to be fierce for the remaining spot or spots at linebacker in this class.

Jennings is the highest rated of the group and is also a UM legacy that is big on the Canes, being the younger brother of current UM linebacker BJ Jennings. FSU will be the team to watch out for here, as Jennings is a legacy there as well. Flowe is most notably the younger brother of 2020’s top linebacker Justin Flowe, but is a highly regarded prospect in his own right with many top programs after him. Whichever school lands Justin will have a head start in landing Jonathan, and the Canes would love to score a package deal with the California stars.

Guys like Lovett and Payton are still in the early stages of their Miami recruitment, having been offered in recent weeks. Payton in particular has been to UM now twice in the past two weeks, both for the Manny Diaz Camps and the aforementioned Paradise. With his 6-5 205 pound frame, Payton could easily grow into a defensive end by the time he gets to college. Bernadel has also visited UM multiple times this spring and is very high on the Canes; he told CIS earlier this spring, though, that he plans to play the process out and doesn’t anticipate an early decision.

The Team

Assuming there’s no attrition, the LB’s from the current roster that will still be on campus when Mckenzie arrives in 2021 are seniors Bradley Jennings, Waynmon Steed, and De’Andre Wilder, along with juniors Patrick Joyner, Avery Huff, and Sam Brooks with a junior Gilbert Frierson at striker linebacker. In 2020, UM has two current linebacker commits in Largo (FL) 3-star AJ Mathis and North Shore (TX) 3-star Corey Flagg, but they are looking to take 2 more for a total of 4.

Looking at that list, there are no proven players at the college level at this time and we will have to wait and see who emerges from that group, so it’s difficult to project a rotation from that. At the same time, it means that anybody, including an incoming freshman like Mckenzie, could break through and gain a meaningful role in 2021.

Like most freshmen, Mckenzie will likely take his first year to work his way into the rotation and develop his technique and body for the rigors of the college game. By his sophomore season, Mckenzie has as good a chance as anybody to take hold of a starting job and run with it.


Comments (4)

No mention of Terrance Lewis as a target...

This kids HLs for a soph looks pretty good.
Kid looks solid. If he shows up here in two years at 205-210 that’ll be good. I’m not sure of this take that early tho. Maybe the staff sees Lewis as a long shot given his early interest in Clemson and the fact he was a gator commit. Clearly Miami isn’t that big in his mind. Jennings we could maybe get if his bro starts to flash. Remains to be seen. Flower I highly doubt. But he did show up to paradise which is a good sign. All in all I think this take is premature but that’s not a knock on the kid at all.
Kid looks legit, great pickup by the staff. His speed and physicality is what jumped out at me.