Wednesday, July 24, 2013
WR Kirk getting attention nationwide
By Sam Khan Jr.
Christian Kirk (Scottsdale, Ariz./Saguaro) was enjoying a family vacation when he got the good news.
The ESPN Junior 300 receiver assumed that he would have no plans for early July and was enjoying a family vacation on a lake with no cell phone service. But when he and his family returned to land and he turned his phone on, he saw multiple important messages. After returning a phone call, he got news that he eagerly awaited: he was invited to The Opening.
Christian Kirk has been the subject of a feeding frenzy, as he already has more than 20 Division I offers.
"My first reaction was 'You're kidding me,'" Kirk said. "It was a dream come true because I've been following that for awhile. It was a blessing and a great experience."
Kirk, the No. 37 player in the 2015 ESPN Junior 300, was one of just five prospects in the 2015 class to be invited to the prestigious event in Beaverton, Ore. Talk to those who have seen him play and it's easy to understand why he was one of a select group.
"He's a hand-timed 4.39 [second 40-yard dash] or electronically-timed 4.4 or 4.5 guy," Saguaro head coach Jason Mohns said. "He's not 6-foot-3, but he's 5-10 and 190 pounds of solid muscle. He's physical, he can line up in the slot and match up with linebackers and not get pushed around. He runs crisp routes, changes direction really well and also has the speed to get out wide and run by corners. You don't really find that combination often."
Saguaro is a successful high school program, one that has five state championships in the last seven years in its division. So getting on varsity for the Sabercats is no cakewalk. Kirk did so as a freshman, won a starting spot in the third game of the season and never looked back, leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns on the Sabercats' 2011 title squad.
UCLA and Arizona State both took notice quickly, as each offered Kirk a scholarship roughly a month after his freshman season wrapped up. But during his sophomore year, things were quiet on the college front, which concerned Kirk some.
Growing up, he always frequented recruiting web sites and had dreams of becoming a national recruit. So he continued to work hard on his craft and turned in a strong sophomore season, piling up 1,003 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns.
By time this year's spring evaluation period rolled around, Kirk was blowing up on the recruiting scene.
"Once spring evaluation started, [Arizona] had offered, that was my third. And I went out to a passing tournament ... picked up two more offers and then to tell you the truth, right when spring ball started, that's when it really blew up," Kirk said. "It was three offers a day, five a week, it was nuts and it kind of blew up."
Now, Kirk has nearly 20 offers, with programs such as Notre Dame, Ohio State and Oklahoma among his offer list.
Kirk continued to impress this summer at camps and combines, including winning the wide receiver MVP honors at the Los Angeles Nike Football Training Camp. The chance to go to The Opening was also special because he got to join a teammate, 2014 quarterback Luke Rubenzer, a California quarterback commit who participated in the Elite 11 finals in Beaverton.
The chance to compete against elite athletes from around the country was something of a wow moment for Kirk.
"It was more than amazing," he said. "It was such a blessing and an honor to be around all of those guys. All those kids are so highly ranked and they're national recruits. You see them everywhere, you see them on TV, every time you're on the computer. I'm a football guy, so whenever I'm on the Internet, I'm looking up football stuff. I always see these guys on the front of ESPN and stuff. Then you go up there and next thing you know you're lining up for one-on-ones across from the guy you just saw on ESPN. It's definitely a blessing and an honor going up there and competing with those guys."
Off the field, he has been an asset to Saguaro. Mohns said the team has voted Kirk as a captain going into his junior season because he doesn't get into trouble and that he has a high grade point average. He's also a willing participant on both sides of the ball -- Mohn said Kirk earned all state honors as a defensive back after playing corner for Saguaro last fall.
"He's one of those kids that has been a superstar from day one but he never acts like a superstar," Mohns said. "Most of the kids that are as good as he is know that they are and they act and carry themselves differently. He just doesn't do that. He works as hard or harder than anybody, he looks you in the eye when he talks, he's a genuine kid who cares about his teammates and makes the right choices."
As for recruiting, Kirk said he is in no rush to make a decision or even narrow things down. He has visited three schools so far -- Arizona State, Texas A&M and UCLA -- but wants to make more visits before he narrows things down. He could take some unofficial visits this fall since he wasn't able to make as many trips to colleges as he wanted to this summer.
"I had plans of narrowing schools down that I wanted to visit, but not necessarily narrowing down my offer list, but this summer has been crazy," Kirk said. "I could see myself next offseason or after this season cutting down my list and really focusing on the schools that I could actually see myself going to."