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Ohio State: 3-star defensive lineman Jaden McKenzie signs with Buckeyes

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Ohio State Football Recruiting

Ohio State: 3-star defensive lineman Jaden McKenzie signs with Buckeyes

Wake Forest (N.C.) defensive lineman Jaden McKenzie has signed his Letter of Intent and is heading to Ohio State.

A 3-star prospect at Wake Forest High School, McKenzie picked the Buckeyes over North Carolina, Wake Forest and Boston College but also held offers from Clemson, South Carolina, Tennessee, Georgia Tech and more.

The country’s 58th-ranked defensive tackle prospect, McKenzie is a 6-foot-4, 285-pound lineman capable of playing inside at defensive tackle as well as on the edge as a strongside defensive end. He’ll begin his Ohio State career as an interior lineman.

Identified by Larry Johnson in the summer, McKenzie was a player the Buckeyes liked quite a bit but weren’t convinced would leave North Carolina for school. He took an official visit to Ohio State at the end of November and that trip, combined with uncertainty with the coaching staff at North Carolina, seemed to turn momentum in the Buckeyes favor. Johnson visited McKenzie twice in December and made the second trip with new Buckeyes head coach Ryan Day in tow and it was that visit which seemed to seal the deal in his recruitment.

As a senior, McKenzie collected more than 75 tackles and had 10.5 sacks heading into last Friday night’s state title game. He helped lead his program to 45 straight wins and three straight state titles at a school that has also produced Stanford’s Bryce Love and Clemson star defensive lineman Dexter Lawrence.

With McKenzie in the mix, Ohio State now has three defensive linemen signed in the Class of 2019. He will join Mentor (Ohio) defensive end Noah Potter and 5-star defensive end Zach Harrison in Larry Johnson’s position group next season. McKenzie is the seventh player ever from North Carolina to sign with Ohio State but the fifth since 2010. The last Ohio State defensive lineman from North Carolina (Tyquan Lewis, Class of 2013) went on to be named the Big Ten’s Defensive Lineman of the Year in 2016.

Dig a little deeper into new Ohio State defensive lineman Jaden McKenzie with a look at his Lettermen Row recruiting profile.


Birm is Lettermen Row's Director of Recruiting and the site's primary Ohio State sports photographer. A Toledo, Ohio native, Jeremy has been in similar roles for and and has been covering the Buckeyes for seven years.