With less than a week remaining in the 2013 recruiting cycle, ESPN150 recruit Denver Kirkland was told by the Miami coaching staff that his hometown program no longer had a scholarship available to him. While, obviously, telling one of the best offensive tackles in the nation that there is no spot for him did not sit well with Hurricanes fans. Nor were the young man’s high school coaches and parents very happy about it either.
However, over the weekend, everything changed. Apparently, despite having brought aboard a star defensive lineman yet to be made public, Canes coach Al Golden and his staff have found a way to bring Kirkland aboard should he choose to hop across the city and play for The U.
“Kirkland and his family met with Miami coaches (Saturday) and (Sunday) one of the assistant coaches at Booker T (former UM track star Tim Harris, the son of the head coach) told Scout’s Jamie Newberg that the offer is back on the table from the Canes,” Mike Bakas of CanesTime.com relayed. “The coach says Kirkland will now choose between Miami, Florida State, and Arkansas this Wednesday.”
Wednesday, of course, is National Signing Day — the very last day college recruits can sign with a program.
Unfortunately for Canes fans, the damage their team’s coaching staff did in Kirkland’s recruitment process may have been irreparable. While Florida State and Miami remain in the conversation, Kirkland may now venture out of the state to play his football.
“We understand what happened and they explained why they did what they did,” Kirkland’s stepfather, Shanton Crummie, told Manny Navarro of the Miami Hearld. “They were hoping they could change his mind, but after talking it out he just decided it was best to move on.”
Arkansas, under new head coach Bret Bielema, now appears to be the leading candidate to land Kirkland.
“Crummie said Kirkland had Miami high ‘up there with Arkansas’ because of academics, but when they pulled the scholarship he was hurt and just never felt the same again,” Navarro wrote.
Kirkland, at 6-foot-4 and 333 pounds, already boasts a college-ready body. He is the 12th-rated player at his position in the entire country. Florida State and Miami, while obviously closer to home and where he may have wanted to go originally, run a more spread offensive system.
On the other hand, while the academics at Arkansas may not be on par with those of Miami, the football is expected to be. While at Wisconsin, Bielema carried on the traditional, smash-mouth running style of play the Badgers have been known for.
Kirkland has been scouted as an excellent run blocker who is able to reach the second level quickly in order to get his hands on linebackers, despite his large frame. Thus, he may prove to be an ideal fit as Bielema works to create a balance between the spread offense run under coaches Bobby Petrino and John L. Smith and the hard-nosed rushing that earned his program three straight trips to the Rose Bowl out of Madison.