January 23, 2007

Kirkland felt at home in Kent

Chesapeake, Va., cornerback Sam Kirkland was a bit nervous traveling to Kent, Ohio last weekend for an official visit at Kent State. The 6-foot, 180-pounder wasn't sure how comfortable he'd be so far from home, but that concern didn't last long when he was greeted by several current Golden Flashes, all from the Virginia area.

"I had a lot of fun," Kirkland said. "There were a lot of guys from my area like Kirk Belgrave, Quinton Rainey, Jack Williams and Stevon Moss. That helps to know a lot of people."

Visiting with the Golden Flashes helped Kirkland to learn more about what Kent State had to offer.

"They were one game away from playing in a bowl game, so I know they are on the way up," he said. "They talked about me playing early as a defensive back; I liked that. That was my second visit there and it was better than my first."

Kent State now ranks near the top of Kirkland's list of favorites. Joining the Golden Flashes are James Madison, where he visited last weekend, and Syracuse. He was supposed to visit Syracuse on Jan. 26 but a track meet will prevent that trip.

With two visits in the books Kirkland feels like he's ready to make a decision.

"I think I'm going to make my decision this week," he said. "I want to go ahead and get it over with. I've been ready and it's been pretty stressful."

Deciding between Kent State, Syracuse and James Madison isn't going to be easy. He has something he likes at each school.

"I like the facilities and the players from James Madison," he said. "Most of the players are from my area and they were the first school to offer me a scholarship so that helps.

"I don't know much about Syracuse but they are really young and I can see them doing good things in the future. They play in the Big East and that helps."

A two-year starter at Deep Creek High School, Kirkland played quarterback in the Wing-T offense and amassed over 1,000 total yards of offense and scored 18 touchdowns. Defensively he recorded 32 tackles, picked off four passes and had two returns for touchdowns.

Kent State plans to give Kirkland a look at both corner and safety.

"Right now they are recruiting me more as a cornerback but they are going to try me at both," he said. "I think I'm a better safety because I played quarterback and I understand things better. Being a safety is like being the quarterback on defense."

Kirkland said he talks often with his Kent State recruiter, A.J. Pratt.

"He's a nice guy," Kirkland said. "He has a good reputation for recruiting guys out of this area and he knows how to recruit. A lot of his players are on the field."

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