One of the top linebackers in the 2015 class has come off the board, as Darrin Kirkland Jr. has committed to Michigan.
Kirkland announced the decision on Twitter on Sunday:
According to his 247Sports profile, Kirkland is a 4-star inside linebacker that measures in at 6'2", 228 pounds. He's ranked by the site's composite rankings as the No. 5 inside linebacker in the country, the No. 2 prospect in the state of Indiana and the No. 194 prospect in the entire country.
He was a force for Lawrence Central in 2013, finishing with 110 tackles and eight sacks. According to his 247Sports profile, he was named an Indiana Football Coaches Association Top50 All-State Selection, to the Indianapolis Super Team, the First Team MIC All-Conference and was an All-Marion County selection.
Not a bad collection of hardware. Here he is at an award dinner, as tweeted by his head coach at Lawrence:
Strength certainly shouldn't be a weakness for Kirkland. He tweeted out his bench press routine in early March and, well, it was impressive:
The one thing that really pops on tape when watching Kirkland is the burst he shows once he makes his read and identifies the play. He is very quick for a young man his size. He also does well to scrape off blocks and chase down plays horizontally or quickly fill in the interior gaps.
Kirkland is athletic enough to drop into coverage without being a liability, and he's quite proficient at rushing the passer. He often came off the edge for Park Tudor in 2012 (he transferred to Lawrence Central this past season) and used his burst and leverage to get after the quarterback.
Here's his tape from his sophomore season.
Kirkland looks like a player that could be very productive at the college level. He'll need to continue to grow as an inside linebacker, but he also has the skill set to be utilized as an outside linebacker if called upon to do so.
As he continues to grow into his frame, he should only improve on the field too. His natural athleticism and ability to play more than one linebacker position should bode well for him as he continues his football career.