Kirkendoll Artist On, Off Field

James Kirkendoll almost drew a picture of Kobe Bryant the night before the Texas Tech game.

An artist off the field, Kirkendoll often draws pictures the night before Texas football games to relax his mind and allow for focus. So when it came time to draw a picture last Friday night, when heading into a hostile environment, was there a better person to draw than one of the NBA's better clutch road players?

Instead, Kirkendoll set aside the pencil and paper for the night.

"I really didn't draw anything," Kirkendoll said. "I kind of played a little video games and just relaxed. But drawing really helps calm my mind, keep me poised before games. It kind of takes me away from all the pressures but really it's kind of a ritual I've been doing for a while now."

Kirkendoll is a gifted artist — he was accepted to multiple art schools after high school — but he chose instead to play football for the local team.

"Once I moved to Texas, I watched the Horns," Kirkendoll said, "especially when Ricky was playing."

Now, Kirkendoll showcases his own form of artistry on the field. He's known as the most consistent receiver on the Texas roster, somebody who runs impeccable routes and is difficult to stop because of his quickness in and out of his breaks.

He used all of those skills to put up a big game against Texas Tech last Saturday, hauling in six passes for 122 yards. Kirkendoll had four catches for 101 yards by halftime.

But he doesn't get too high, or too low, from his performances. Last season, Kirkendoll appeared to be on a hot streak late, catching touchdowns against Kansas and Texas A&M in the last two games of the regular season. But he was nearly invisible in the Big 12 Championship and the BCS National Championship games.

Both Kirkendoll and the Texas coaches have been quick to point out that the results weren't any failing of Kirkendoll's, but instead an example of taking what the defense was giving. Kirkendoll said he didn't get too excited after his great showing against Texas Tech for the same reason.

"Some games, you'll watch film and see that you have big opportunities in certain areas," Kirkendoll said. "But my motto is whenever you touch the ball, you've got to make the play.

"It could really be any of us on any given week," Kirkendoll said.

Last week it was Kirkendoll, and he said he's going to keep working to make sure that he'll be ready when his number is called.

"I know what I'm capable of. I know that it's my senior year, and I have to make plays," Kirkendoll said. "I know that I'm going to have the opportunity to make big plays. And when my opportunity is given, I need to come through."

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