Friday, March 14, 2014
Meet No. 4 WR Christian Kirk
By Erik McKinney
Throughout this recruiting cycle, RecruitingNation will profile a number of ESPN 300 prospects in the 2015 class, including an inside look at the prospect, his recruitment, a scouting report and what college program could benefit when he ultimately makes his decision.
Few high schools in the country could lose a player like D.J. Foster and have the excitement about the future not take a dip. In his senior season at Saguaro (Scottsdale, Ariz.), Foster broke the state record by scoring 60 touchdowns -- one defensively -- as he rushed for more than 3,000 yards for the Sabercats on their way to back-to-back state titles.
Christian Kirk's versatility will make him a big offensive weapon for whatever team he picks.
While coaches, fans and players celebrated, Foster -- who signed with Arizona State in the Class of 2012 -- had a few words of advice for one teammate in particular.
Christian Kirk, a freshman at the time, gave Foster a hug and received some not-so-easy-to-follow advice.
"He said to me, 'Be better than me,'" said Kirk, who was the team's leading receiver on that 2011 squad. "Ever since then, I've set out to be better than D.J. was. A lot of people compare us and it's an honor to be compared to a guy like that. He definitely left his legacy at Saguaro and that's what I'm looking to do."
Kirk recorded 43 receptions and 16 total touchdowns as a sophomore, but the nation's No. 36 overall prospect and No. 4 wide receiver took a huge step forward as a junior, posting some outrageous statistics on the way to a state title.
Kirk rushed 77 times for 825 yards -- a 10.7 yards-per-carry average -- and 13 touchdowns, caught a team-high 65 passes for 1,164 yards and 17 scores, recorded 50 tackles and two interceptions on defense, returned five kickoffs for 172 yards and took three of his four punt returns back for touchdowns. He finished off his season by rushing for 156 yards and two scores, as well as posting 101 yards receiving and two more touchdowns in the state title game.
Arizona is becoming more and more of a hot spot in terms of producing talented recruits, but it will take some serious work for any prospect to supplant Kirk at the top of the state rankings.
"It all starts with a state championship," Kirk said. "You can have all the stats and everything you want, but if I don't leave with a state championship on our board my senior year, it'll be hard to remember and it would sting me. That's definitely the No. 1 goal."
One of five juniors to be invited to Nike's The Opening event last summer, Kirk is a well-known commodity in the 2015 class, and even turns fellow recruits' heads when he attends offseason camps, like he did at the Nike Football Training Camp, held this past Sunday at Redondo Union (Calif.) High School.
At this stage of the process, Kirk is closing in on 40 offers and is one of the most sought-after recruits in the nation. Dozens of college coaches will be chasing his signature over the next few months, but Kirk's focus is singular, as he looks to put the Sabercats on his back for his final high school season.
About his recruitment: Kirk took an unofficial visit to Texas A&M last year and has made visits this spring to see Ohio State, UCLA and USC. Kirk said he is comfortable with the schools he has visited and there's a good chance they could wind up amongst his favorites in the end, but the 5-foot-11, 197-pound speedster is far from narrowing things down to a final list. His summer plans could be cut short by schoolwork, as Kirk will be an early enrollee, so there will surely be plenty read into which programs get his unofficial visits and which will receive his five official trips this fall.
Scouting profile: The L.A. NFTC featured some taller receivers who performed well like Cordell Broadus (6-2), Equanimeous St. Brown (6-5) and Trent Irwin (6-2), but Kirk checks in at under 6-feet and was among the group’s top performers. Kirk is anything but small and has a thick muscular build, and while he looks more the part of a RB, he is a fine receiver. He is a good athlete with soft hands and very good body control. If the ball is anywhere near him, odds are that the ESPN Junior 300 WR will snag it. Quick and fluid, Kirk can also be dangerous after the catch with the ability to make defenders miss out in space and create yards. Kirk might not be built like your more prototypical receiver, but he is still a good one with big-play ability. -- Craig Haubert
Handicapping the race: At this point, it's safe to put the schools he's visited -- Ohio State, Texas A&M, UCLA and USC -- up front as the leaders, but with so many schools still in play, it's tough to give any school a huge head start in this recruiting battle. The Aggies have a few things going for them, including a wide-open offense and the fact that Kevin Sumlin signed Kirk's good friend, quarterback Kyle Allen -- as well as another Arizona standout in Qualen Cunningham -- in last year's class.