The family and some of his older friends call him Magic. James Kirkendoll will disappear on you if you are trying to hunt him down and tackle him. The two sport star would like to play both football and basketball in college and what better stage right now than for a Florida football team close to playing for a national championship and a basketball team that just came off of a title?
James Kirkendoll has big time offers to play basketball and would really like a chance to show he can do both at the next level. No doubt his physical skills are what make him a special player in both sports. Could Billy Donovan and Urban Meyer pull of a double whammy here?
“I have offers in basketball from Iowa State, Colorado, Colorado State, Sam Houston State and a few others were about to,” Kirkendoll said. “I am a combo guard. I am pretty strong for my size and my first step is pretty fast and I am a shooter and scorer.
“I am looking to play both sports right now. I watched Florida’s basketball team last year. They are explosive they get after it. Their defense is really what shocked me. They get on the floor and everything.”
Playing both sports demands a lot of his time and he willingly sacrifices it because he loves the competition. The 5-11, 180 pound speedster from Round Rock (TX) thinks his work ethic is what makes him different from most.
“Honestly I don’t know anyone that puts in as much work as I do,” he said. “I have basketball and football so I pretty much sacrifice all my free time for sports. A lot of people tell me I have this competitive instinct that you just can’t teach. Of course I am known for my speed. The fastest I have ever clocked was a 4.35, but I clocked a 4.38 at the Scout.com combine.”
It is probably that work ethic that has attracted the Gator football staff to Kirkendoll. He says that the Gator coaches have been in constant contact and although he hasn’t set a visit to Gainesville yet, he will likely do so soon.
“Coach ‘G’ (Wide Receiver Coach Billy Gonzales) and (Offensive Coordinator) Coach Mullen are contacting me,” Kirkendoll said. “I also talk to Coach Meyer like every two weeks. He just says how he wants to get me down for a visit and meet everyone and how I would fit in great with the Gator family. He tells me how they would use me and how I would fit in the big picture.”
Another thing that probably attracts the Gator coaching staff to Kirkendoll is his apparent selflessness. There is no doubt they would want him to start out on offense, but he is willing to do whatever it takes to help and also to get on the field the fastest.
“Coach Gonzales says I am one of the fastest guys that he is recruiting,” Kirkendoll said. “He thinks I could come in and make an immediate impact at the slot position on screens and stuff like that. I just want to get on the field as soon as possible it doesn’t matter. I would prefer to start out at receiver, but if I could play earlier at corner then I would definitely move.”
With the Gators on television frequently, Kirkendoll can see that they are willing to play freshmen, even with all the seniors that are currently playing prominent roles.
“The tradition is crazy down there and from watching on TV it is a nice school and nice environment,” he said. “Playing all those freshmen definitely lets me know that they are going to play the best players even if they are young.”
James’ father Maurice is the one that nicknamed him Magic. It happened one day when he was ten years old and playing in an organized game when Magic scored seven times. Inside the family the name just stuck.
“I was in the fifth grade I had seven touchdowns in one game,” he said. “There was this one particular play I reversed field twice and scored on it. Ever since then he has called me Magic.”
Maurice Kirkendoll is very proud of father and knows his kid could play anywhere on the football field. That is one reason he knows he will succeed up and to the highest level of football.
“He plays on both sides of the ball,” Maurice said. “That is the beauty of it, when he gets to college if things aren’t going right, he could switch to the other side of the ball.”
James’ drive to succeed is what separates him from others according to his dad. He just seems to want it more and wants to learn everything about the sports he is playing.
“I am most proud of his resiliency, his willingness to learn and soak in knowledge,” said Maurice. “He is a sponge for knowledge and wants to be the best at what he does. If you say he can’t do something he is going to go out there and prove you wrong.”
Maurice also knows his son can handle being away from home and he is all for James branching out. He is ok with James going away as far as he needs to go to be in the right place.
“I am ok with it because James is real mature and he is going to be fine,” dad said. “It will make him grow up as a young man and meet some people. You have to cut the cord sometime.”
Right now he has plans on visiting three schools and all are away from the state of Texas. Florida is one of course, Tennessee and Oklahoma are two visits he will likely take before all is said and done.
“I will take a visit to Tennessee in January and that one is the only one lined up so far,” James said. “They have a lot of wide outs leaving. Playing time there is very open. They throw the ball a lot. Pretty much I know I can go in and play early there.
“At Oklahoma a lot of their receivers are sophomores but they are all bigger guys. They don’t have any slot guys more of possession guys.”
He doesn’t have a date set to visit Florida yet, but plans on one. He also plans on two other official visits. When it comes time to decide, he knows what will push him to one school over the others.
“The main thing is I definitely want to come in and play early,” he said. “I don’t want to red-shirt. It’s also about the type of environment and will I fit in great there. I also want to get along with the coaches and teammates too.”
James Kirkendoll is a hard working student and a football player with Hester’s speed and Randle-El’s elusiveness. If you aren’t paying enough attention to him on defense, he could disappear on you just like Magic.