Before suffering an apparent right knee injury during the first of two practice sessions during the second day of rookie minicamp last week, Patriots third-round draft pick Tyrone McKenzie spoke proudly of overcoming obstacles to reach the pro game.
The Globe's Christopher L. Gasper chronicled McKenzie's journey after the Patriots tabbed the South Florida product with the 97th overall pick in this year's draft.
Four years ago, Tyrone McKenzie was checking guests in and out of a Hampton Inn near Tampa. Yesterday, he checked into the NFL, as one of the Patriots' two third-round draft picks.
McKenzie's path to professional football was a circuitous one that included stops at Michigan State, Iowa State, South Florida, and the hospitality industry. Usually, a prospect who was at three schools in five years would raise character concerns, but McKenzie's nomadic career was the result of his desire to put family before football.
The 6-foot-2-inch, 243-pound linebacker, who lost his father when he was 9, began his college career at Michigan State in 2004. He played in 11 games as a freshman, but in the spring of 2005, after his mother, Ruth, was in a car accident, McKenzie was forced to leave school.
The accident left his mother with ankle and wrist injuries that rendered her unable to operate her home daycare business. It was shut down. McKenzie returned home to Riverview, Fla., and took a job as a hotel worker, working nights to support his mother and three sisters and kept in football shape by working out during the day.
McKenzie got his feet tangled up with a running back while working on pass coverage in one-on-one drills during Saturday's session and both players went to the ground. McKenzie eventually walked off the field, but did not participate in the day's second session.
Previously featured rookies