Big Visit Will Impact DT's Decision

This week will be a critical time for Stanford's 2004 recruiting class, with a nationwide collective of top talent coming to The Farm for all or part of the Cardinal's overnight camp. One visitor you may be surprised to learn on the way is top Virginia defensive tackle Jon Kirchner. His college decision is coming soon, and this visit will be key in his determination...

The recruiting news has been quiet on Virginia standout defensive lineman Jon Kirchner, but that is not for a lack of excitement surrounding him today.  He has put together offers from all of his favorite schools, been named one of the most elite talents in his state and is about to take his list critical visit before his college decision.

When we last checked in with Lexington, VA talent he had offers in hand from Stanford, Virginia and West Virginia and was in the middle of tumultuous emotions about his childhood prohibitive favorite: Virginia Tech.  Both of his parents went to Blacksburg and Kirchner told the Internet recruiting world early in the spring that he was ready to commit early to the Hokies when they offered.  But March turned to April, and April turned to May without the highly anticipated full ride from Tech.  The Hokies have now offered, but the time they spent spinning their wheels allowed their in-state rivals and Stanford to make a lot of headway with the premier defensive lineman.  Much to the horror of VT coaches and fans alike, Kirchner in fact names the Virginia Cavaliers as his current favorite.

"They have come to my school a lot," Kirchner says of the Virginia staff.  "I've gotten to talk with them more than anyone else.  I really like the coaches."  The Lexington lineman, though, was still very excited about his newest offers, coming from Tech, Duke and Maryland.  The word from Blacksburg came at the tail end of May, but was not delivered as the one call allowed by college coaches during that month.  "They had already called me once in May," Kirchner remembers.  "So they called my coach at school and had me call them back.  I wasn't surprised by the offer - I knew it would come at some point.  It was good, though.  It's definitely a relief to know that I'll have that option.

The two in-state schools appear to be battling out for Kirchner's college services, along with the Stanford Cardinal, though other schools are offering and more may come along.  "They are still my top three," he says of the schools.  "And I'm pretty sure it will all come down to these top three."

One dimension that he is carefully scrutinizing, though, which you very seldom here in football recruiting stories, is the strength of the engineering departments at all three schools.  He took a trip to Virginia Tech earlier this month with the express purpose of touring their engineering, and just recently did the same at Virginia.  Up next is the campus and facilities out West, as Kirchner is visiting Stanford this week with his father and brother.  They have family in San Francisco and are making a whole trip out of the Bay Area.  "I have never been out West," the recruit reveals.  "I really want to see what the campus and people are like."  He also adds that he will participate in one day of camp while at Stanford.

These battles are tough ones for Stanford to win, though.  The lure of the in-state programs for Virginia kids is historically very powerful, and the recruiting acumen of Al Groh in Charlottesville has only intensified that force.  Add the dimension of some 3000 miles separating the Kirchner home from The Farm doesn't help either, but the young DT target says that he will have a better grasp of what that means after this trip.  "Distance is one of the things this visit will help out with," he explains.  "You don't know what it means to be away from home until you know where you'll be.  Distance might play a little part in my decision, but it's not a huge thing right now."

Another dimension that keeps cropping up is the family factor.  Both parents are VT alums, though they have different approaches to their son's recruitment.  "My mom doesn't have much to say - she just wants me to be happy with my decision," the younger Kirchner details.  "My dad definitely is against how I'm favoring Virginia, though, and he pushes Tech all the time.  That won't affect my decision, though.  I won't go somewhere just for him."

That all being said, parents are incredibly powerful forces in recruiting decisions, and we have seen that work for Stanford numerous times through the years.  Some parents who can't stand the thought of the distance have even killed erstwhile Cardinal commitments.  Both parents seem on board with Stanford, but the father's reaction to this week's visit could be a crucial component.  His struggle between Tech and UVA might reach a new level of complexity once confronted by the campus, facilities and people on The Farm that so often seal the deal with parents.  It surely will be interesting to get a read on how things change once this visit is complete.

And it will be just as much a relief for Jon Kirchner to have his college decision behind him.  He says he is shooting for a mid-July decision and it weighs heavily on his mind.  "I'm always thinking about it," he says of his imminent college selection.  "I want to be done with it before my senior season so that I have that wrapped up and no longer weighing on me."  One last component still to be handled, though, will be Stanford's admissions process.  Kirchner has the application in his hands but has yet to dive in and work on it.  "I'm not at that point yet," he says.  He did pull down an 1140 SAT score this spring, though, and looks to be a very strong candidate.

Why get so excited about Kirchner?  Maybe because TheInsiders' Atlantic Coast recruiting expert Miller Safrit has tabbed the Rockbridge County HS rising senior as the #7 talent in all of Virginia.  For the full list of this month's Virginia Top 30, click here and read on.  It is also noteworthy that Kirchner put together a very strong Nike Camp performance at Virginia Tech this spring, including a 28.6" vertical leap and a dominating performance in one-on-one drills.

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