Kirkland Has Eye-opening Experience at PSU

The four-star Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central linebacker gives the lowdown on his unofficial trip to Penn State Saturday.

From top to bottom, Darrin Kirkland called his Penn State visit "very impressive."

The Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central four-star middle linebacker didn't need a thesaurus to describe his Penn State visit. The words to paint a picture of his unofficial stop Saturday at University Park just came to him.

"It was much more than I expected, as well as for my parents," Kirkland said. "From top to bottom, [head] Coach [James] Franklin and his staff did a very thorough job of explaining to me why the place is so great.

"Really, it was just coming to the city of State College. That was one of the big things. I really liked it. The campus is beautiful. Way more than I expected it to be; the buildings are really nice. Everything was nice."

Penn State offensive line coach Herb Hand is leading the 6-foot-2, 220 pound linebacker's recruitment, but it wasn't just Hand Kirkland spoke to Saturday.

Instead, the Lions entire staff greeted him in mass when he arrived. Most of the day, though, was spent with Franklin, Hand, and linebackers coach Brent Pry.

"They are all great guys. Coach Hand is my recruiter, so I talked with him first. They all have the same pitch; they are preaching family. That's really what drove their success at Vanderbilt, and that's the one thing they preached to me and my family.

"I loved it. [Hand, Franklin, and Pry] are three great guys."

Between a stop for lunch and a tour of the football facilities and Beaver Stadium, Pry offered Kirkland a glimpse of how he sees him fitting into Penn State's defense if he decided to attend the school.

"In Coach Pry's scheme, he wants to do a 3-4 or 4-3 base," Kirkland said. "I know [Pennsylvania linebacker] Jake Cooper is already committed to Penn State, but Coach Pry sees him as a WILL [linebacker] and sees me as a MIKE [linebacker] if I made the decision to come there."

Kirkland's day began at the Lasch Building, and he and his family spent most of the day there. After a stop for lunch and a campus tour followed. Along the way, Kirkland saw Penn State's Creamery before finally stopping at Beaver Stadium. He called the stop at the Lions' 107,000-seat stadium one of the highlights of his trip.

The junior said that among other things, Franklin made note of Penn State's alumni network, adding it would be beneficial along with his education for employment down the road.

"‘Linebacker U' is true and strong today," Kirkland said. "They are strong with their linebackers; they always have top linebackers at their university as well as education. They are a top eight public university in the country and 37th in the world.

"I didn't know at all. While on campus, my Twitter was blowing up all day with people being excited that I was there. Coach Franklin said the fan base is unbelievable."

Penn State helped itself, Kirkland said, but the linebacker added he helped himself by making the trip, too. He and his family intended to stay overnight in State College before traveling back to Indianapolis.

Kirkland's next stop comes Tuesday when he visits Michigan. He has not set any other trips besides that one to Ann Arbor. The junior added he has no timetable or deadline in mind for a decision.

"They helped themselves a lot, and I feel like I helped myself a lot being able to see a great place," Kirkland said. "I couldn't base my decision of a name, but after coming, I have a great feeling of what they have to offer. It was just exciting."

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