The Vols sent the house – a trio of their best recruiters – in head coach Butch Jones, linebackers coach Tommy Thigpen and defensive line/associate head coach Steve Stripling to Kirkland’s Indianapolis home on Thursday, making a final push for the consensus four-star linebacker who is near the top of their recruiting board and is expected to enroll early.
Adding at least one more quality linebacker is a priority for this class as the Vols move on from the A.J. Johnson era. Tennessee only has one true linebacker commitment in three-star Austin Smith from Buford, Ga., after longtime commitment Cecil Cherry has all but decommitted from the Vols. Kirkland would certainly help fill that void.
Kirkland has the Vols high on his list – if not on top – after he visited Knoxville for the Missouri game on Nov. 22. Tennessee is currently his leader, according to the projections from the 247Sports’ Crystal Ball.
Here’s part of our RTI evaluation of Kirkland. Be sure to go to his full profile to see film and more information.
“He has excellent reaction time and has very little wasted motion in his form when he goes to make a play. He is solid in pass coverage over the middle, picking up running backs and tight ends with relative ease in his film, but would certainly need to expand his coverage abilities at the next level. He has good speed for his size, but his real strength is his ability to shed blockers, get to the ball carrier and get them to the ground with solid tackling form and technique.”