A dream became a reality for rookie offensive guard Kahlil McKenzie last month, as the Kansas City Chiefs traded up to select the University of Tennessee product in the sixth round of the 2018 Draft.
It marked another step in McKenzie’s lifelong desire to be a professional athlete – a journey that caught the interest of “UNINTERRUPTED,” a media platform founded by NBA superstar LeBron James, prior to the draft.
McKenzie was featured as part of a video series titled “Done Waiting” back in April, where he explained the origins of his unwavering ambition to suit up in the National Football League.
“I started playing football when I was about as young as I could walk,” McKenzie explained in the video. “My dad and uncle both played in the National Football League. I never call it pressure, but I just want to make sure that I’m doing what I need to so that everyone talks about me the same way they talk about my dad and uncle.”
Those familial ties were on center stage when the Chiefs selected McKenzie with the No. 198 overall pick last month, as his father, Reggie, currently serves as the General Manager for the division rival Oakland Raiders.
But before McKenzie received that life-changing call, he was simply focused on being the best version of himself that he could be.
“With this time between playing and seeing where I’ll end up, everything kind of slows down,” McKenzie said in the video, unbeknownst of his eventual destination. “You pay more attention to your body and what you need to get better at both on and off the field. If you do it right, you can come in knowing exactly who you are and what you’re ready to do for your team.”
Interestingly enough, that meant changing positions. A defensive tackle in college, the Chiefs asked the six-foot-three, 320-pound McKenzie to make the switch to offensive guard right out of the gate.
It’s inevitably a tough task for a player to make such a radical transition at the professional level, but if the video’s closing quote is any indication, McKenzie is the ideal player for the challenge.
“What happens when you fail? You get back up, again and again,” McKenzie said. “If I fail, that means I gave up…and I’ll never give up.”
Check out more from UNINTERRUPTED here.