Payton Kirkland is a massive offensive tackle prospect from the Sunshine State who has already amassed nearly 40 scholarship offers as a class of 2023 recruit.
The 6-foot-7, 315-pound sophomore from Dr. Phillips High in Orlando has started to see his recruitment heat up and says several schools are standing out because of how much interest they’re showing early in the process.
“At first it was pretty calm but after a while it got kind of hectic,” Kirkland said of his recruitment. “Arizona State, Florida, (Florida) State, and Clemson have been showing the most love so far.”
Clemson typically doesn’t offer prospects until the summer before their junior year, per Dabo Swinney’s policy, but Kirkland is a strong candidate to receive an offer from the Tigers when they begin dispensing offers to 2023 recruits this summer.
“It would mean a lot to have an offer from Clemson,” Kirkland said. “Since I’m a sophomore they told me it will most likely happen over the summer.”
Kirkland thinks highly of Clemson’s staff and stays in touch regularly with Clemson offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell as well as his area recruiter for the Tigers, Todd Bates.
“The staff is full of great coaches as well as men,” Kirkland said. “Whenever we speak it goes deeper than football.”
Not only is Kirkland building a good relationship with the coaches, but he also has a good relationship with Clemson defensive tackle and Apopka, Fla., native Tyler Davis, as the two are friends and work out with one another in the offseason from time to time.
“We really just train together occasionally, and he helps me get better,” Kirkland said of Davis. “Great player but an even better person.”
Kirkland has plenty of time to make his college decision, with two years of high school still ahead of him, and doesn’t plan to commit until the end of his upcoming junior season this fall.
Assuming the Tigers eventually pull the trigger on an offer to Kirkland as expected, Clemson figures to be a top contender in his recruitment and a school he strongly considers moving forward.
“I have a very high interest in Clemson,” he said. “I love the culture of the program and the consistency over these past few years.”
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