YPSILANTI — When Tate Mackenzie was playing in a seventh-grade football game, Ypsilanti Lincoln football coach Chris Westfall told the offensive lineman’s mother that he was going to be the most heavily recruited player in program history.
Now a junior, Mackenzie is trending in that direction. The 6-foot-8, 315-pounder received a scholarship offer from Michigan on Thursday after meeting with Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh and offensive line coach Ed Warinner at Schembechler Hall.
Mazkenzie also has an offer from Toledo.
“His mom kind of laughed at me and said, ‘My little guy?’” Westfall said. “But you could see it coming because lineman don’t develop like little skill guys. Skilled guys are athletic from day one, lineman take time, and he has grown into this body over the last two-three years.”
Mackenzie, who has grown up a Michigan fan, said Thursday was a dream come true receiving an offer from the school just miles down the road.
“It was really cool because everyone around here is a Michigan fan,” Mackenzie said while driving back from Schembechler Hall with Westfall. “To see Harbaugh and see these people and talk to them, and for them to know who I am and care about me enough to offer me, that’s just crazy.”
Mackenzie earned Associated Press second-team all-state honors this season and is a two-time Ann Arbor News Dream Team honoree. Westfall called him the best offensive lineman prospect he has had in his 26 years coaching, but they both know there still is a lot of room for improvement.
“They said I need to get more leg strength and get my foot speed up,” Mackenzie said. “They really like my tenacity and my size and said I come off the ball pretty fast.”
Westfall said he would like Mackenzie to improve his pass-blocking next season but has no doubt he can succeed at the next level.
“I absolutely think he can play in the Big Ten,” Westfall said.