Kenton Kirkland brings speed, size and intelligence to Tallahassee



In last night’s 20-17 win for Jacksonville (Raines) over Ocala (Trinity Catholic), there was one player on the court who was different from the rest. It’s not because of the size either. That player accolade would actually go to Tommy Kinsler of Trinity Catholic, a Miami offensive line commit who is 6-foot-6 and 330 pounds.

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Kinsler has a bright future for the Canes, but the best player on the pitch wore the opposite color jersey. The different The player would be defensive back Kenton Kirkland, a commitment from Florida State playing for Raines.

His natural athleticism is showing game after game. Here’s a breakdown of what Kirkland demonstrated last night, starting with the key game for him, and possibly the match, of the first half.

Kirkland was playing in midfield. Just play his safety spot like any other game. It was a banjo call, which is where the cornerback and the safety switch if the receivers cross.

Kirkland saw his man break under; that’s when Raines’ No. 1 jersey lined up on the sideline.

Seeing the speed of the senior defensive back on this play opened my eyes. Few 6-foot-2 defensive backs possess this type of burst. It is increased by capturing while diving and intercepting while dragging the toes.

Kirkland timed the jump just in time to make a play every football player should cheer on. From that point on, Kirkland barely saw any direct action from Trinity Catholic quarterbacks. Naturally.

Still, he’s able to stop and start as a 5-foot-9, 170-pound cornerback. Combining those traits with a muscular frame like Kirkland is impressive. He is also a player who can help a defense in different ways.

In addition to being safe, he plays on the receiver of the slot machine. He mixed playing his man and charging towards his responsibility while playing the slots corner, then also playing traditional zone coverage from there.

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No matter where he lines up, Kirkland is solid and doesn’t allow receivers behind him, or allow a pass to be caught on him during a run. At this point, Kirkland’s future at FSU will be one with many possibilities.

He can play as a free safety, a cornerback or even a traditional cornerback. It doesn’t really matter. The versatility of Kirkland’s position is evident. This leads to his best attribute.

Intelligence. Kirkland was coming up against fast receivers from Trinity Catholic, but he didn’t get overconfident or lose sight of his responsibilities. Throughout the contest, Kirkland continues to play his keys, not allowing receptions and remaining active in the running game as well.

Seeing his football IQ, first-hand, provides insight into a potentially special player for the ‘Noles. In fact, Seminoles fans should expect this youngster to play early.

The physical and mental aspects of the game are there for Kirkland. He should make an impact with his two main physical attributes – size and speed – while his intelligence makes him an all-around student-athlete for Florida State.

*Courtesy of Inside The Knights Brian Smith.

READ MORE: Florida State knocks out Louisville to 3-0 for first time since 2015

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