Kirven has 'God-given talent,' decision looms

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Highlight film. Offer lists. Star ratings. Quotes from analysts. Combine numbers. Many tools can be used to assess the talent level of a football recruit.

Sometimes it's best just to get word straight from the horse's mouth — the coach that's had a particular prospect under his wing for months or even years.

When InsideTennessee wanted to find out more on four-star defensive lineman Korren Kirven, it went to the Under Armour All-American's prep coach, Jeff Woody of Brookville (Va.) High School.

"He's great," Woody said to InsideTennessee of Kirven. "He's an all-around football player. Great athlete with great size. He's got God-given ability, God-given talent. At this point in time, he's got to make something of that. He's got to get in that weightroom and got to get bigger so he can compete on that next level. That'd be the only thing that I see that he needs right now. He's great in the hips. He's got great lower body strength. He needs to increase his upper body strength."

Kirven told InsideTennessee during Under Armour All-American week that he fully-well plans to play his true freshman season at the school of his choice. The clock is ticking if that is going to come to fruition, however, as he has had to devote himself to taking his official visits, hosting coaches and had been dealing with being on crutches for roughly two months.

Universities like Alabama, Maryland, Tennessee and Virginia Tech haven't backed off of the 6-foot-4, 260-pounder since his season-ending injury back on Dec. 3. His right fibula broke and the ankle below dislocated during a VHSL state semifinal.

Brookville runs a spread offense with one back but goes to a "heavy package" in short-yardage situations with two tight ends and three running backs. Both upbacks are defensive linemen and this past season one of those was Kirven.

"At that position we usually try to find somebody like that — somebody that plays defensive line and is real physical. Korren was perfect for it," Woody said.

"At that moment right there I'm thinking, 'Of all the plays we could have called,' but at the same time, as a coach, you want to call the best play in order to get the first down.

"We ran that play probably 30 times prior to that with success for touchdowns and gained yardage and got first downs. Korren broke the frontline and probably had four people on his back. While the play is going on, I'm thinking to myself, 'Go down. Go down. Go down.' A little too late. He bent the wrong way. That lower leg broke, snapped I guess."

No ligaments were torn, but he had to have surgery to insert a plate and two screws.

The rehabilitation process takes a step forward on Tuesday for the Lynchburg, Va., native. "He throws the crutches away tomorrow," Woody said.

Even without their star player, the Bees went on to defeat previously-unbeaten James Monroe 34-33 in the VHSL Group AA Div. 3 championship on Dec. 10.

"Without Korren's services, we were able to go win that state championship game, but definitely it was disconcerting to me that we were without an All-American, four-star recruit at defensive tackle," said Woody, who was recently named the Lynchburg News and Advance All-Area football coach of the year.

With the trophy in the glass case and the fingers being sized up for rings, Brookville's attention starts to center around Kirven and his recruitment.

"To be honest with you, I have no clue where he's going to go. It's between four schools. I don't have a preference. I'm not going to steer him in any direction," Woody said.

Brookeville's coach broke down some of what he thought Kirven liked about each school and said this about the Vols: "I think Tennessee has got a good chance."

To help Kirven make up his mind, Woody used the EA Sports game NCAA Football and the "dynasty mode" whereby the user decides what's most important selling points of a program.

"So we sat down Friday…to find out what's the three most important things (Kirven) is looking for. It was playing time early. Now obviously he knows he's got to redshirt for a year but playing time. He wants to get a good degree. And, he wants to get drafted.

"As far as the four schools, we listed each school and all the positives and negatives. I just helped him categorize his thoughts and organize his thinking."

A pair of advantages Virginia Tech has over the Volunteers consists of defensive end Zack McCray and quarterback Logan Thomas both being Hokies and graduates of Brookville. Also, Blacksburg is 219 miles closer to Lynchburg than Knoxville.

Tennessee is hoping the addition of coach Sal Sunseri to the staff as the new defensive coordinator puts it over the top.

"It was easy for Korren to make a connection with Tennessee once Sal made the move from Alabama to Tennessee," Woody said.

"Sal was one of his favorite recruiters. He came down there to see Tennessee and obviously once you get down there, the program and the facility speak for themselves."

Tennessee currently has 21 commitments, including the seven players that enrolled in January. If he chooses the Vols, Kirven would join fellow incoming defensive linemen Danny O'Brien, LaTroy Lewis, Daniel McCullers, Darrington Sentimore and Trent Taylor in one of the program's most respected hauls in recent years.

Kirven is set to make his decision at Brookville's auditorium on Wednesday morning at 8.


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