High school notebook: Washington’s McKenzie notices uptick in Pitt football’s recruiting efforts
Wash High standout Shai McKenzie (28) isn’t jumping to sign with Pitt after Rushel Shell’s departure.
Jim McNutt / Observer-Reporter
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Shai McKenzie can sense a difference in how Pitt has recruited him following recent news that Rushel Shell will transfer, but the Washington High School running back doesn’t think fans should anoint him as the program’s savior just yet.
“It’s shocking that a lot of Pitt fans are depending on me to commit (to Pitt),” McKenzie said. “I really don’t think they should depend on me. I know Pitt has a shot of landing me, but other than that, a lot of things can change. I have a lot of options. Pretty wide open.”
McKenzie has 30 NCAA Division I scholarships, the majority from BCS-level schools. It’s a list that McKenzie plans to whittle down to 10, though he’s not ready to do that yet.
“It’s still going to be a long time,” McKenzie said. “I’m basing (the top 10) off of who has tried to contact me and who tries to keep in touch a lot.
“Basically just relationships and people I feel comfortable talking to.”
McKenzie did say three schools fall into that category and will make the cut: Pitt, Florida State and Georgia Tech.
The extra attention since news of Shell’s departure has been noticeable, McKenzie said.
But no mention has been made of that other marquee back from the WPIAL.
“I’ve been getting letters from Pitt left and right,” McKenzie said. “They haven’t mentioned (Shell’s transfer), and I’m pretty sure they don’t want to mention it.
“I know a lot of people are upset, but I feel like depending on me should be the last thing to worry about.”
McKenzie attended Pitt’s spring practice yesterday to check out the team’s running back situation first-hand. He’s flattered by Pitt fans thinking he can – and should – replace Shell, but the Panthers’ sudden void at running back isn’t going to speed up the process for McKenzie.
“I know they’re pretty upset about it, and that’s why they’re trying to get me down to spring ball to see how I would feel,” McKenzie said. “I know they’re trying to heavily recruit me now. I know they were before, but I can really see the change.”
Coming off a WPIAL Class AAAA championship season, the Canon-McMillan softball team returned a strong nucleus.
But the Big Macs suffered a big blow over the winter when starting shortstop Veronica Rothka suffered torn knee ligaments while playing indoor soccer.
Canon-McMillan, which is off to a 2-0 start both overall and in Section 4-AAAA, suffered another blow this week when junior catcher Giorgiana Zeremenko suffered a shoulder injury that will sideline the reigning Observer-Reporter softball player of the year for at least three weeks.
The news could have been worse, however, as Canon-McMillan head coach Michele Moeller didn’t know what to expect from the injury.
But with Zeremenko – who batted .475 with seven homers, six doubles and a team-best 31 RBI last season – out, Moeller has shifted all-state right fielder Abby McCartney to catcher.
The move in positions hasn’t bothered McCartney, a sophomore. She had a double and two triples, driving in five runs in a 12-1 section win over Chartiers Valley Thursday.
“Abby is doing a great job behind the plate right now,” said Moeller. “And Gia is still here. She’s calling the pitches and staying involved until she comes back.”
Peters Township’s Trevor Recktenwald, who also plays hockey for the 18-U Pittsburgh Viper Stars, was named to the North American Prospects Hockey League (NAPHL) 18-U Tier I AAA All-League team, earning second team honors after putting up 104 points and 41 goals in 74 games.
Staff writer F. Dale Lolley contributed to this report.
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