Kirksey has 17 games as a reserve under his belt and is hungry to take a step into the two-deep.
Spring Performance -- Kirksey was one of the surprises of spring. For one, Kirksey finished healthy after missing the first week of camp on the mend. An ongoing battle for the junior defensive tackle, Kirksey finished as strong as could be expected.
Kirksey (foot) and starter Isaac Holmes (elbow) both entered the spring coming off injuries. When coach Kyle Flood opted to rest Holmes at the end of camp, Kirksey answered the call and very little was lost at nose tackle with him in a starting spot.
Expected 2013 Role -- Rutgers always seems to have plenty of defensive tackles on the roster but struggle with depth by the midway point of the season. Scott Vallone and Darius Hamilton had to change positions last season to keep an adequate rotation inside.
Should Kirksey stay healthy, a challenge after two inconsistent seasons, Rutgers has the legitimate depth it needs at the nose tackle position. Holmes is firmly established as a starter, but Vallone's versatility will be missed. Look for Kirksey to be one of eight or nine in the rotation-based defensive line.
Scouting Report -- Kirksey came to Rutgers physically ready. Athleticism is no concern for the 275-pounder famous for doing back flips after victories. Kirksey is quick enough to play 3-technique and strong enough to play nose but the consistency has not been there. He is improving as a space eater with more experience at nose and could play either position behind starters Holmes and Hamilton.
Kirksey needs to be pushed by the coaching staff for a more consistent performance in training camp and to build on what he did this spring. Foot injuries have kept Kirksey from being at 100 percent for most of his Rutgers career and first-year defensive coordinator Dave Cohen needs his athleticism and versatility inside.
The Bottom Line -- A healthy, motivated Kirksey is just what Rutgers needs with depth concerns at defensive tackle going into training camp.