Four-star has 'perfect' visit to Knoxville

Visit for all the best and latest Tennessee Vols recruiting news. Scroll down to read about a four-star who had an "excellent" first visit to Knoxville.

Tennessee made quite the first impression on Scout four-star linebacker Darrin Kirkland.

Kirkland admits he set irregularly high hopes for the trip before hand. After all, he wouldn't have made the five and a half hour haul from Indianapolis, Ind., to Knoxville for the Vols' first junior day event over the weekend if he didn't.

"I was expected a lot from the visit. Like a lot, a lot," Kirkland told InsideTennessee. "I thought I may have set my expectations too high, just to be honest."

He didn't.

The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder said his first time touring Tennessee's campus "went above and beyond" his already high hopes.

"Everything went well," Kirkland said. "It was just really the perfect trip."

The Lawrence Central (Ind.) High School standout current claims 16 offers, highlighted by Ole Miss, Virginia Tech, Mississippi, Penn State and others.

While the Vols haven't offered, Kirkland feels one may be coming his way soon after spending "quality" time with several Tennessee coaches.

"They really have a lot of interest in me. They told me they want to have me back really soon and keep building a good relationship," the nation's No. 14 outside linebacker said. "They want me comfortable here and feel like I'm headed down to see family. They did a good job of that."

It may have been Kirkland's first time seeing the Knoxville-based campus in person, but he came into the trip already well educated about Tennessee's program.

Vols defensive line coach Steve Stripling checked in on Kirkland twice over the winter. Kirkland describes their relationship as "great," adding that his favorite part of the trip was spending time with Stripling and other coaches.

"Just getting to meet a bunch of coaches for the first time and getting to know them on a more personal level, that was really good," Kirkland said. "This was my first time being in Tennessee and it really was a great first visit. I liked it a lot.

"The biggest things was, you know, getting to meet coach (Butch) Jones for the first time. I've heard a lot about him being energetic and a great guy, so that was good. That was my favorite part."

A close second, Kirkland says, was walking onto the grass at Neyland Stadium.

"Getting to see the stadium – that was really, really beautiful," Kirkland said.

Kirkland doesn't have a list of favorites just yet, but he called making one "his mission" for the rest of the spring.

"I want to check out a bunch of schools and just get a group together that I want to focus on before summer," Kirkland said.

Kirkland doesn't have set travel plans for the rest of spring and said he's been receiving recent interest from Michigan and Notre Dame.

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