Hi. Welcome to the weekend. Hopefully everyone has had a chance to unwind a bit and enjoy what feels like the first non-blizzardy weekend we've had here in Ohio for a while. The snow hasn't begun to melt yet, but the Buckeyes are heating up their recruiting efforts for 2015 and this week saw it pay off with the surprise verbal commitment of Jacksonville (Fla.) star safety Ben Edwards. Edwards, a three-star prospect (for now) has a couple of five-star teammates he's hoping to bring with him to Columbus, but today we'll focus on one of the players Ohio State's coaches are recruiting outside of Jacksonville.
In the last two seasons, Ohio State has identified their "it" player on offense early (Dontre Wilson and Curtis Samuel) and through good-fortune (Chip Kelly departing Oregon) and early evaluation, they've landed them both. Christian Kirk is that player for 2015, and the Buckeyes will get their first chance to impress him in two weeks time as he and his family will visit Columbus on February 27th.
Residing in my old stomping grounds of Phoenix, Arizona, Kirk is a composite five-star prospect on 247Sports.com. At 5-foot-10 and near 200-pounds, he's a dynamic wide receiver but he's more than just an athlete. He's a polite, thoughtful and measured personality, unlike many of the "diva" wide receivers so prevalent in football he watched growing up, and has a good head on his shoulders and a clear vision for his future. He wants to major in communications or business in college and thinks he'd enjoy broadcasting after his football career is over.
Kirk's highlight tape — as you no doubt see for yourself — is borderline ridiculous and the reasons why he's so high on Ohio State's list of priorities is self-evident. Further proof that Ohio State is serious about Kirk? They've got his positional coach recruiting him already rather than the regional recruiter and Zach Smith on the case is good news.
"(Zach Smith and I) get along awesome, we've really hit it off," Kirk told Eleven Warriors. "We talk pretty much everyday in some way. He talks about how he can help get me ready for the NFL and help me become the receiver I want to be."
"Ohio State has told me that they'd use me in more of a wide receiver role than how they use Wilson," he said regarding his potential role in Urban Meyer's offense. "Maybe more how they used Corey (Philly) Brown."
In the middle of the worst Ohio winter in decades, Kirk, an Arizona boy through and through, will trek across the country and check out frigid Columbus. Has weather been considered as a detriment for Ohio State or any other school?
"I guess we'll have to see how it affects me," he said. "If I felt like Ohio State was the place for me the cold won't stop it. I'll talk to (Buckeye 2014 signee Johnnie) Dixon about it when I am up there."
Dixon, it should be noted, was a long-shot to ever sign with the Buckeyes, but it was his relationship with Zach Smith that turned things in Ohio State's favor. Kirk has something in common with the Florida star beyond his warm-weather roots: he intends on graduating from high school early and enrolling early at the college of his choosing.
"I am not going to wait until any specific date, like an All-Star game or anything because I am graduating early," Kirk said of his timeline for selecting a school. "I have a goal in life and if giving up a semester of high school and fun to reach that goal is what it takes then I'll do that. (Choosing a college) is a business decision for me and if you want to reach your goals that's what I have to do."
One of the select juniors-to-be that participated in last summer's "The Opening" in Eugene, Kirk has offers from a number of the nation's elite football programs, including Oregon, USC, Texas A&M, Florida State, Texas and more. He's got an excellent relationship with fellow Arizona-native and Texas A&M early-enrollee Kyle Allen and Phoenix sent two of its best players in the 2014 class (WR Jalen Brown and DL Jalen Jelks) to Oregon, so Smith and the Buckeyes will have quite a battle on their hands if they want to land "the guy" again in 2015.
Unlike many of the country's premiere players, Kirk is focusing his energies on picking his school. To that end, he will not participate in 7-on-7 camps this spring, so you may not see as much of the five-star as you will others.
"I won't be doing much camping or 7-on-7 this year," he continued, talking about his business choices. "I need to focus on my visits and early graduation; getting my classes done."
With a family trip the midwest in two weeks, Kirk says this trip will only be to see the Buckeyes, but he does have plans to visit a few other schools soon.
"I'm just going out there to see Ohio State," he said of the trip. "I will also go visit USC, UCLA, and Oregon at least this spring."