Kirven still juggling options

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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. — Wearing a sweatsuit and getting around the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex on crutches wasn't what Korren Kirven had in mind a month ago.

Kirven's high school career was cut short when a pile of defenders climbed on his back while he was toting the rock in Brookville's 38-27 win over Cave Spring in a VHSL Group AA Div. 3 semifinal on Dec. 3. The weight caused his right fibula to break and his ankle to dislocate.

"I was actually running the ball," said Kirven, who is a highly-prized defensive lineman. "Third-and-four. I was trying to get the first down. It was about a 10- or 12-yard run. Everybody just started jumping on my back. It just went in. It was a freak accident. I knew what happened, but I didn't think of the severity. I just threw my helmet off and started screaming to let them know something was wrong. I didn't think it was that severe until I took my sock off and saw my ankle was real big."

Brookeville, playing inspired football for both Kirven and another teammate that went down with a similar injury, went on to win the state championship by defeating fellow unbeaten James Monroe 34-33.

That was a memory-making moment that Kirven had every intention of begin a part of and in uniform for. Add being able to compete as an Under Armour All-American versus many of the country's best prep players to that list of once-in-a-lifetime opportunities that he missed out on as an on-field contributor.

"It hurts but stuff happens. You've got to deal with it and come back stronger," Kirven said.

"Now I realize how much I love the game without being able to play the game and stuff like that. I'm just focusing on my rehab and coming back stronger than I was."

Although there were no torn ligaments, Kirven still had to have surgery to have a plate and two screws inserted. He was placed in his second cast a week and a half ago. The current cast is set to be removed in roughly two weeks and then Kirven will start the rehab process while wearing a boot.

When he returns home, Kirven will start packing his bags before going on a tour of campuses to decide what university will be lucky enough to pick up the signature of the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder.

He has an official visit to Maryland scheduled for next week, then Tennessee (Jan. 13), Alabama (Jan. 20) and Virigina Tech (Jan. 27).

The planned trip to Knoxville took something of a hit on Monday after Kirven learned that defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and linebackers coach Peter Sirmon were both leaving Rocky Top to join coach Steve Sarkisian's staff at Washington.

"It affects me. Tennessee was one of my leaders. It's definitely going to affect my decision. I'll probably still take a visit, but as of now, those were my two recruiters and they're leaving."

Kirven does have a relationship with Vol head coach Derek Dooley and defensive line coach Thompson, but he noted that those ties aren't as strong as the bond he held with Sirmon and Wilcox.

Before the departure of the Pac-12 bound coaches, the Lynchburg, Va., native sounded very high on the Vols.

"Tennessee is a nice school," Kirven said. "I like the atmosphere up there.

"Another factor is the depth chart. I went up to a game against LSU, and I could see they were really hurting in the middle. Just that I could help them early is definitely a big factor in my decision."

Kirven, who is rated by as a four-star prospect and the No. 15 defensive tackle in the country, also touched on the honesty of Dooley and Thompson. He listed what he wants to see out of the school of his choice: playing time, facilities, academics.

Does the expansion of the indoor practice facility and new football weight room play a role in considering Tennessee?

"Oh, heck yeah. That's definitely a big factor. When you've got nice facilities, people are going to want to come there," he said.

Having to get his right leg back to 100 percent, along with packing on several pounds of good weight will be essential if his desires to earn playing time as a freshman are realized.

"I know the difference in coming in and playing as a defensive line instead of like a running back or wide receiver as a true freshman," Kirven said. "But, I think if I push myself with this rehab and do what I'm supposed to do, I think I can do it.

Aside from figuring out what Dooley will do with the vacant spots on the Tennessee defense's coaching staff, Kirven also wants to get a feel of what kind of recruits he'd be joining in the Class of 2012.

"See, that's the thing, I don't know many recruits of Tennessee," he said. "But, I plan on meeting a lot of them when I take my official up there. I only know them two — Danny (O'Brien) and (Dalton) Santos. It's definitely going to be a big thing to just get up there and meet a couple of the recruits so I feel more comfortable with the program."

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