Jaylon McKenzie is one of the best players from the St. Louis, MO area in the Class of 2023.
The 5-foot-6, 140-pound McKenzie, who attends Central Jr. High, is a versatile athlete that plays as a quarterback, wide receiver, running back and defensive back for the East St Louis Jr. Flyers.
McKenzie has already received plenty of recognition during his outstanding youth football career, such as:
2016 Offensive Player of the Year
2017 Team Most Valuable Player
2016 Under Armour All American Camp invite
2016 FBU TOP GUN invite
2018 Under Armour All American Camp invite
2018 Nextgen “The Show” invite
2018 USA All American Camper
McKenzie is humbled for the opportunities to showcase his skills against the best of the best.
“It’s always an honor to be recognized for my hard work,” McKenzie said. “It was a great experience to be among the best of the best. It always push me to work even harder.”
No matter the opponent, on each snap McKenzie is determined to give it his all.
McKenzie is going all out.
The motor is always at full throttle whenever McKenzie steps between the lines.
“My mindset is always to be the best at any position I play and to score every time I touch the ball,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie has great passion and energy whenever he’s on the gridiron. McKenzie tells why he enjoys the game of football so much.
“It’s not just one thing I love most about the game,” McKenzie said. “But if I had to choose one I would have to say being a part of a team and building lifelong friendships.”
McKenzie has learned many valuable lessons from playing football that he applies to his everyday life.
The main one is applying perspective to all situations.
“Playing football has taught me that being a team player is an important attribute to have,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie recalls his favorite football memory.
“Waking my mom up 4-5 hours before game time completely dressed and ready to go,” McKenzie said. “Also the passion that I have for the game has led me and my team to winning three Super Bowl titles.”
Robert Boyd is in his first season coaching McKenzie for the East St Louis Jr. Flyers organization.
Boyd explains the best parts of McKenzie’s game.
“Jaylon is considered an "Athlete”. He is the best quarterback on the team, best wideout on the team, best defensive back and by far the best running back. Therefore to label him as one of them in particular, is doing him a disservice,” Boyd said. “However, primarily he's been a dominating running back, because carrying the ball out the backfield is simply natural to him.”
McKenzie is not only gifted with blazing speed but is also a highly fundamental player.
“What makes Jay stand out is simple. He's so darn fast. His speed sets him apart from all the rest, but couple his speed with his vision, his toughness, and his desire to dominate. His technical abilities are an afterthought,” Boyd said. “At any rate, he is definitely a technician. His routes are crisp, the way he changes direction is superb, and how he uses and understands the multiple angles on the football field to his advantage are all reasons why I consider him to be a technician. I often see him practicing his techniques as he is in line awaiting his turn.’
McKenzie takes his role as one of the leaders on the team very seriously. McKenzie makes sure he’s a daily positive influence on his peers.
“I demonstrate being a good teammate by being a leader and working hard every time I'm on the field,” McKenzie said. “I tell my teammates to make every play likes it’s your last play.”
Boyd adds that McKenzie is one of those consummate teammates that every squad needs to be successful.
“It's easy to determine that Jaylon is a leader on the football field because, first off, he leads by example. This simply means that he is the first to do all the drills, and his teammates respect the heck out of him,” Boyd said. “As a coach, we need coaches on the field, and the fact that he understands the game and does his homework about his teams' opponents means Jaylon is looked to as the "Go To Guy", especially when the game is on the line.”
McKenzie is appreciative of having amazing male role models that are supportive.
“My coaches have taught me to work hard no matter the circumstances,” McKenzie said. “To keep a good work ethic on and off the field.”
Boyd is an advocate of McKenzie’s capabilities.
“A great example of Jay's play making ability is when he played against the team I coached last year. Now, it's a fact that there are only 11 players on the field on either side of the ball, however, during this particular play…Jay made 14 people miss. Meaning he weaved his way through all 11 players on defense and made three people miss twice...on his way to the endzone,” Boyd said. “It's funny because going into the game, I thought that if I had held him to only three scores...I would have a chance, and needless to say I did, but we lost by three touchdowns. So again, I am ecstatic that he is playing for me in middle school.”
In addition to making clutch plays, McKenzie also has a high level of football IQ as well.
McKenzie has excellent football awareness that puts him in position to thrive.
:As a youngster, there is footage of him playing in the house and imagining game time situations...and this is where I believe his football IQ started developing,” Boyd said. “An example of Jay using his IQ is how he knows when to cut on a defender, when to lower his should and embrace the impact, and when to run out of bounds.”
McKenzie is on the grind to perfect and hone his craft in any way possible.
“Jay's training is really intense, when he finds time to train specifically for an individual sport. Now, I think it is important to note that Jay is not only an outstanding football player, but he also runs track and he is a phenomenal basketball player,” Boyd said. “Therefore, his schedule is packed with practice and considering that he is a great student in the classroom, Jay even finds time to be a normal 13-year-old kid. However, when he does train, he gets the most out of every session.”
Boyd explains why he compares McKenzie to this Hall of Fame member.
“In my estimation, Jaylen has the skill set in multiple sports and the likes of Deion Sanders come to mind, when comparing him to a pro player,” Boyd said. “The reason I say this is that Deion played on both sides of the ball, he was the fastest on the field, and has the required "swag" that comes with being the best player on the field. Heck, I might just start calling Jaylon, "Prime Time" now that I think about it.”
Meanwhile, McKenzie also patterns his play after this current star.
“Odell Beckham because he works harder than anybody around him,” McKenzie said.
McKenzie is constantly striving for greatness in everything that he does.
“On the field I want to be the best player that step foot on the turf,” McKenzie said. “Off the field I want to be the best student I could be in the classroom. “.
McKenzie lists social studies as his favorite subject in school, “because the history of this country/world is interesting to me.”
Boyd outlines the next areas of improvement for McKenzie.
“As his coach, it is my job to coach him past his talents, meaning that although he is good at what he does, he's not yet great,” Boyd said. “With this noted, Jay will need to know how to use his speed as there are times when being patient is more important than being fast. Likewise, the small details within pass routes, when to be a tough football player and when to be a smart football player will also be taught.”
Boyd believes the sky is the limit as long as McKenzie continues to stay hungry.
“Jaylon has the potential to be a superstar. He's one of those guys that will be in the Heisman conversation in college…a top 10 draft pick in the NFL…and a future Hall of Famer,” Boyd said. “The reason I know this to be the case is because he has dominated his level as a youth athlete, and he is on path to do the same in high school. After his multi-year football career is over, he will most definitely be a coach.”
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