Kyle Flood is still hot in the recruiting track for the Texas Longhorns with a surprise commitment to offensive tackle Payton Kirkland, adding to an already strong offensive streak lineup.
Kirkland’s journey to the class of 2023 was a long, winding story that ultimately ended his centuries-long promise. For the majority of his commitment, it looked as if the Texans were out looking for the big intervention from Florida. The Longhorns missed his top 5 initially and weren’t listed among the finalists when he announced his commitment date.
When recruiters began predicting he would pick Horns, Kirkland doubled down on his social media activity and even republished his advertising graphic while excluding Texas from the mix. However, it appears as if Flood’s pre-existing relationship from his time with the Alabama Crimson Tide allowed Texas to open the door and secure the commitment.
The 274th overall player and 25th move on the course, Kirkland joins a class full of potential, especially with a need for more depth and variety in the offensive line’s lineup—even after pulling off the Beast in 2022. At 6-foot-6, 345-pound, no Kirkland not only fits the ordinance of senior humans, but is in one spot as one of the players most likely to remain against Forty Acre.
Kirkland is the fifth offensive lineman to join the class and likely the last of the group, except for something unexpected.
Analysis (by Daniel Seehorn):
Kirkland is a near three-year rookie in offensive tackle at Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Florida. Before Dr. Phillips, Kirkland was at West Orange High School where he played offensive and defensive tackle as a freshman. Kirkland scored on the right tackle in 2020 before flipping left in 2021, so he has experience on both sides during his prep career. At 6’6, 345 pounds, Kirkland has plenty of putting size and a good height which he uses to his advantage often on the bar. He shows strong resilience for his size and shows the ability to take the ball out with a low hat. He continually hits defenders to the punch using his height as an advantage and making his feet when engaged. He shows a good punch and good playing power on the bar, because he is able to constantly dislodge defenders from LOS. He plays with good aggression and looks to finish his block. He plays with a bit of an edge to him, but he’ll also be the guy who gets you off the lawn after your flat back. It shows good body speed in the snap in protecting passes, but needs to get a little more depth into the kick group at times. They hold up well when defenders are trying to get down to the middle of it and they do a good job of widening defenders when they want to try to run an arc. He does a solid job of recovering when the defenders were initially able to slap his hands.
I think Kirkland has a chance to stay at the next level given he has the sporting action you need, but he will still need some polishing as a passing protector and will continue to improve his agility so he can stay ahead. FBS Edge Rush. I think he’s more than just blocking running at this point in his development, and even if he does have to kick inward for the long haul, he’ll have a chance to evolve into a nice next-level player.