When Clemson begins extending offers to rising junior prospects this summer, one strong candidate to be among the Tigers’ initial offensive line offers is Orlando (Fla.) Dr. Phillips tackle Payton Kirkland.
The massive 6-foot-7, 315-pounder has already amassed 40-plus offers as a class of 2023 recruit and expects Clemson to enter the mix this summer, based on what he has heard from offensive line coach Robbie Caldwell.
“Coach Caldwell, he says he’s going to offer me probably this summer or so, whenever he can,” Kirkland told The Clemson Insider. “He said he’s pretty high on me. He said he loves me as a player and as a man.”
Kirkland is starting to build a solid relationship with Caldwell, as well as his area recruiter for the Tigers, Todd Bates, and has a lot of respect for the coaches.
“Coach Caldwell, I feel like he’s a great offensive line coach,” Kirkland said. “He puts together a great group each year, and I like what he does when it comes down to recruiting. And Coach Bates, Coach Bates is my guy. Recruiting wise, he always has something to talk to us about, whether it’s football related or not.”
If the Tigers pull the trigger on an offer to Kirkland as expected, he says they would have staying power in his recruitment and be one of his top college choices to the finish line.
“It would mean a lot, to be honest,” he said of an offer from Clemson. “I feel like Clemson will be considered up until my decision date, whenever that will be at.”
Added Kirkland of what stands out to him about the Tigers: “The consistency within these past few years … In this past five to six years, the consistency within the program has been amazing.”
Among Kirkland’s current offers are schools such as Ohio State, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Texas A&M and many others.
Right now, Kirkland says his recruitment is “pretty wide open” and he doesn’t have a set commitment timeline, though he would ideally like to wrap up the process prior to his senior season in 2022.
“I was thinking of probably before senior season, walk into senior season with everything straight and set out for me,” he said. “But I could commit at any time, to be honest. There’s no timeframe.”
When it comes down to it, Kirkland’s college decision will be determined by several important factors.
“When it comes down the factors, it’s going to be probably my mom, what I’d like to major in, the location of the school, of course my relationship with the staff and probably the roster at the time,” he said.
What will Kirkland bring to the table for the college team he ends up playing for in the future?
“As an offensive lineman, I’d say what sticks out the most about me is my size and combination of athleticism together,” he said. “It’s not something you really see every day. I’m very patient on the field, I make good decisions and I feel like I can be a leader to those around me, no matter if I’m a freshman or if I’m a senior, and I’m always going to give everything, my 150-percent effort.”
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