JUCO linebacker Josh Kirkland loved everything he saw on his official visit to Syracuse. While his mind was all but made up after the weekend, he wanted to discuss things with his family back home before making a decision.
He did just that and knew earlier this week that Syracuse was the place for him. However, he waited until Thursday to announce his decision so that he could commit to Doug Marrone in person during an in-home visit.
"I just thought that was the place for me to be at," Kirkland explained. "Everything I read and from when I was there. I love their education, and the football program seems to be on the right track. I can't wait to start playing there."
The coaching staff played a huge part in Kirkland's decision. His relationship with them has developed quickly. That instant connection has made him much more comfortable about playing football so far from home.
"Spending time with the coaches meant a lot to me," the 6-foot-3 prospect said. "I love the defensive coordinator (Scott Shafer) and head coach Doug Marrone. They're both really great guys. Coach Marrone and I seem to have a few things in common. We really think that I can make a big impact on the defense this year. Marrone, I get along with that guy very well. He's very down to earth. Both coaches seem very down to earth.
"Just great, quality coaches. They're the types of guys you need. Guys you can trust. Being from Kansas, so far away, you need coaches you can trust. I honestly think I can trust both of these coaches with the rest of my career. That was a huge part of my decision."
Moving so far away, it would be natural for his family to be hesitant about that transition. Kirkland says, however, that his family is very supportive. They understand how rare it is to get an opportunity to play division one college football.
"I've got five brothers and three sisters," Kirkland offered. "Everyone's really excited for me. They know I worked hard. Just from being a small town kid to making it big time. I came from a school that was 2A and 3A. I don't think very many people make D-1 out of that school.
"My parents are supporting me one hundred percent because they know how hard I worked to train for opportunities like this."
Now that Kirkland can focus on his college career, he already has goals formulation in his mind for his time at Syracuse. That time will start soon, as he will be enrolling in January. Still, he knows he has a lot of work ahead of him if he is going to reach his lofty goals.
"Obviously to get to a bowl game if not a national championship," Kirkland admitted. "And to just be successful. I want to be a good teammate. Everything works if you have good team chemistry first and foremost. Syracuse already has that and I want to add to it.
"As far as knowledge of the game, I want to take in as much as I can. The more you know about the scheme of how a team like Syracuse plays, the better you will play on the field. I just hope I can become the athlete I've always wanted to be. I think Syracuse can help get me there."