The Yellow Jackets decided to make a change at head coach, this caused a ripple effect regarding assistants. Unfortunately, Tech was unable to retain fan favorite and Jackets legend Tashard Choice. The Jackets looked to a fellow elite academic institution when they hired Vanderbilt running backs coach and run game coordinator Norval McKenzie to fill the same role in Atlanta.
McKenzie is a Georgia native, graduating from McEachern in 2001. He was a four-year player at Vanderbilt, having his best season as a junior in 2003. He took a role at Hiram HS, in Paulding country, before returning to Vanderbilt as a graduate assistant from 2008 to 2009, a term that included a loss to the Jackets in 2009. He would then spend five seasons at Furman, as running backs coach and special teams coordinator. He would then move to Arkansas St for three seasons, as a running backs coach where he worked with Tech OC Buster Faulkner, before moving to Louisville, for two seasons, then back to Vanderbilt.
Assembling a staff is one of the harder tasks that a head coach must accomplish. You must balance coaching and teaching with building relationships and recruiting. Normally you look for your running backs coach to be one of the top recruiters on your staff. McKenzie has been a strong recruiter in his previous stops. He has signed multiple four stars at Vanderbilt and had the same level of success at Louisville, including current Tech RB Trevion Cooley.
McKenzie will be ultimately judged on his ability to recruit, develop and retain running back talent. This looks to be a solid hire of a guy with previous experience with the staff and playing at and recruiting to an elite academic institution.