Kirkland likes the genuine approach from the Florida Gators

Billy Napier and the Florida Gators coaching staff have made it a point to rebuild the offensive line group and they’re focusing heavily on that in recruiting.

Offensive lineman Payton Kirkland (6-6, 345, Orlando, FL. Dr. Phillips) was on campus and got to see what the coaches are like on a daily basis.

“To be honest, just seeing the coaches in their natural habitat,” Kirkland said on what he was able to see different this time. “Rather than be at your school watching you practice, being able to sit down and have tough conversations with them because this is a tough process and tough conversations have to be had.”

Kirkland also had the chance to talk to several players and he was hosted by a guy that has known Napier and his staff for years.

“O’Cyrus [Torrence],” Kirkland said on who his player host was. “He said he based things on relationships not just the program itself. He fully trusts the staff and the system and that’s the reason he came here. He says everyone has a genuine attitude here.”

Offensive line coaches Rob Sale and Darnell Stapleton also laid out the plan for Kirkland on how he would see the field early in Gainesville.

“They see me coming in and being an impact truly at left tackle,” Kirkland said on where the coaches want him. “Regardless of the grade they see me as a talented player, and I’ve made myself valuable by being able to play all five positions on the offensive lineman. So, if there’s a senior ahead of me at left tackle then they will put me at the guard or tackle. NFL teams only travel with seven linemen, so they truly have a plan for me. They said if I can come in and start at left tackle then I can do it, if not I will move to guard.”

Kirkland has goals to play early and play in the NFL and he likes the plan the Gators have for him if he comes to Florida.

“It’s amazing,” he said on his thoughts on the plan Florida has for him. “To be in a position to be coached to the point where you can’t be denied, that’s something that sticks out to me.”

The Orlando native has been a frequent visitor to Gainesville, and he says there are several things he likes about the Gators, but the coaches’ attitudes stick out to him.

“It’s genuine here [Florida], the love for me is genuine,” Kirkland said on what he likes about Florida. “They really want me to be a part of their family, not just the football team. The one thing that sticks out to me about Florida is nothing new, everything stays the same, the message stays the same, the people stay the same, and the attitude stays the same. The coaching staff is pretty open with the recruits and Coach Napier has done pretty much everything he said he would do since he got there.”

Kirkland has made it known that his mom is a big part of his recruitment, and her opinion will be big in his decision and the Gators made her a priority this weekend.

“She had more fun than me,” he said laughing about his mom’s impressions of the visit. “They showed her a good time, it’s pretty much her recruitment now.”

Next up for Kirkland will be trips to Michigan State, Miami, and possibly Texas A&M as he says the Aggies have moved into the mix for him.

“It’s the process of elimination,” Kirkland said on how he’s going to decide. “Certain schools, you see certain things from and there’s one more contender that hasn’t been talked about and they’re creeping into it. Texas A&M, so we will see what happens.”


Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.