Today is a great day to wish a Happy Birthday to Reggie McKenzie. According to the Wikipedia article linked below, Reginald “Reggie” McKenzie was born today at Detroit, Michigan. He attended Highland Park High School where he was a standout athlete and football player. Bump Elliott recruited young Reggie to play for him at Michigan.
Reggie McKenzie came to Ann Arbor in 1968 and spent his freshman year learning the Elliott way to play football at Michigan. He probably hit the books hard and the practice field too! I am sure his goal was simple: get ready for the 1969 football season. However, everything changed when Bump Elliott resigned his coaching job to become an Assistant Athletic Director to Don Canham in November 1968. McKenzie’s life would change forever with the hiring of a guy named Bo Schembechler in December 1968.
In the words of Reggie’s teammate, Glenn Doughty, Spring Football practice in 1969 was “like Marine basic training!” It was the hardest thing that Doughty, McKenzie and their teammates, had ever done in their young sports life – period! Players were quitting left and right and when the dust finally settled, about seventy-men were ready for Schembechler football! Reggie McKenzie was one of them!
Reggie did not start any games in 1969, but he played enough to earn a letter on Bo’s first team. McKenzie started ten of ten games in 1970 and all twelve in 1971. Michigan went 20-2-0 during Reggie’s junior and senior years! He also helped the Wolverines win two conference championships (1969 and 1971)!
Reggie McKenzie earned first team All-Conference honors in 1970 and 1971. He was selected as a consensus All-American in 1971 for his stellar play. When his career was over, McKenzie, and his teammates, had accomplished an impressive body of work. Reggie, and the other members of the Class of 1971, raised the football standards at Michigan and they stayed there for a long, long time!
After graduation, Reggie McKenzie went on to a successful thirteen-year career in the National Football League. He made 169 NFL starts and earned first team All-Pro honors in 1973 and second team honors in 1974. McKenzie followed up on his playing years with a successful business career. Check out the excellent Wikipedia article for the details.
Of course, I couldn’t be writing about Reggie McKenzie today if he wasn’t associated with some Michigan football “firsts.” Here are some that link Reggie to Wolverine Football:
- Reggie McKenzie played on Bo Schembechler’s first team in 1969.
- McKenzie was also part of Bo Schembechler’s first Big Ten Championship team in 1969.
- Reggie McKenzie played in the first ever games against Arizona and Texas A & M in 1970.
- McKenzie played in the first eight game Big Ten season in Michigan Football history in 1971. The Wolverines ran the table and finished 8-0-0 – very impressive!
- Reggie McKenzie played on Bo’s first team to win 11 games in a single season in 1971.
- McKenzie also played on the first, and only, Big Ten team to win a conference championship in the first nine decades of Big Ten play in 1971.
- Reggie McKenzie was Bo Schembechler’s first All-American guard in 1971.
So, today is a great day to celebrate the contributions of Reggie McKenzie to Michigan Football. I hope he has a great day today on his special day. Happy Birthday Reggie and Go Blue!