DE Kenneth Kirksey Ready For Rutgers?

Defensive tackle Kenneth Kirksey was in position to make a big contribution on Rutgers' defensive line this season, but transcript issues forced him to go to Fork Union Military Academy. He spoke to early in the week about his bid to become eligibile and where it stands, and whether he remains committed to the Scarlet Knights or is looking elsewhere.

Rutgers commit and defensive tackle Kenneth Kirksey joked about not wanting to trim his hair before heading to Fork Union Military Academy, and living the stringent military life was quite the change.

However, the 6-foot-1, 295-pound Kirksey said the experience was wonderful in prepping him for life at Rutgers, which will begin for a second time in January.

Kirksey needs to finish up a math class before he is NCAA eligible, but that should be a formality.

"It's been hard, but (FUMA) coach (John) Shuman, he's real smart in math and helped me in getting eligible," Kirksey said. "I had to take two classes, and I'm still taking one. I had to get my grades up, and I'm doing that. I took one (class) and after I taking (this) one more, and then I'm all set. I'll be up at Rutgers after that."

The experience of leaving his Daytona, Fla., home also served as a perfect bridge for the Mainland High product.

"The being away from my family part helped out a lot, actually," Kirksey said. "I had to be away from my family, and it showed me how to survive on my own in a different environment."

Kirksey will leave Fork Union on Dec. 17 and return to his Daytona home. He will arrive at Rutgers in mid-January, beginning classes on Jan. 18.

It will be the second time Kirksey arrives at Rutgers as a student. He traveled there in early July and began working out in the summer conditioning program while readying for his freshman season.

However, the NCAA raised questions about his transcripts, so he left and enrolled at Fork Union.

Through it all, Rutgers was in constant contact with Kirksey.

"I talked to them all the time," he said. "I think I can (play immediately). I'm in shape, which I wasn't when I went to Rutgers the first time. I'm much stronger, I'm much faster and I'm much smarter. I think I can do it."

Kirksey will have an opportunity for immediately playing time because of Rutgers' defensive tackle situation. Charlie Noonan is lost to graduate, and junior Eric LeGrand sustained a the serious spinal cord injury in October.

"That was very sad," Kirksey said. "He's a big factor on the defense, and they miss that. I think I can come in right away and be able to play."

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