OT Jaxson Kirkland Commits to UCLA

Aug. 14 -- Portland (Ore.) Jesuit offensive lineman Jaxson Kirkland committed to UCLA on Sunday and is headed to the Pac-12 like his father...

Portland (Ore.) Jesuit offensive lineman Jaxson Kirkland is Pac-12 bound.

The three-star tackle committed to UCLA on Sunday afternoon, and will follow his father into the Pac-12.

"I just got off the phone with Coach (Adrian) Klemm and I committed to UCLA," said Kirkland.  

Late last month, Kirkland narrowed his final four to CaliforniaOregon StateUCLA and Washington State.

He visited all four schools, taking a trip to UCLA in June and Cal in July, after numerous trips to Washington State and Oregon State.

But it was on his unofficial to Westwood where he felt he had found where he wanted to spend his college career.

"I really want to branch out and go somewhere different and UCLA had everything I was looking for," said Kirkland.  "It's an NFL factory, Coach Klemm has had a lot of NFL draft picks and I want to keep that legacy going.  But more importantly, it's an outstanding school.  It's the most applied to school in the country.  So if football didn't work out, I would have a great education and degree."

On his unofficial visit, Kirkland talked with UCLA left tackle Conor McDermott, and that conversation went a long way with him.

"When I was talking to Conor, it was like almost a future me.  He came from Tennessee to California and he said it was awesome and he loved it," said Kirkland.  "I'd be coming from out-of-state too so that really helped me know it was the place for me."

Kirkland will follow another Oregonian to UCLA, joining fellow Portland native Osa Odighizuwa, who signed with the Bruins in February.

"I haven't talked with Osa yet, but it's nice to have another guy from Oregon there and will give me a little comfort," said Kirkland.

Kirkland also cited his relationship with UCLA offensive line coach Adrian Klemm as a key reason he picked the Bruins.

"We have a really good relationship," said Kirkland.  "He doesn't bother me like some coaches do, but when we connect on the phone each week, I can tell he's really sincere and he really cares.  I know he'll help me grow a lot.  He's a really great coach."

Kirkland said that the lack of tackles on the Bruin roster also made an impression.

"The depth they have at tackle is short right now, so I know they need big, long tackles," said Kirkland.  "They have some other guys for left tackle, so the plan is to start me out at right tackle.  I'll play any tackle position.  I definitely know tackle is the position for me."

Jesuit has sent a number of players to the Pac-12 in the last few years- to Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Cal and Washington but Kirkland is the first foray into the Pac-12 South from Jesuit's last few classes.

"It's really cool and I'm happy about that," said Kirkland.  "It's big for me too, to commit now, because I can just focus on Jesuit football and not worrying about the coaches texting me.  I could get it off my chest."

Kirkland's father played at Washington and won a national championship in 1991.  The younger Kirkland long dreamed of playing in the same conference his father did, and now that dream is going to be realized.

"It's crazy and insane to think about," said Kirkland.  "Growing up and thinking about how far away the dream was, and now to accomplish it, it's pretty awesome."

Kirkland is the No. 2 lineman in Oregon in the 2017 class and the No. 11 offensive tackle in the West.  He's also the No. 8 overall player in a strong group from Oregon.

Last fall he helped Jesuit win the Oregon 6A state title and they start their 2016 fall practice this week.

"I can't wait to start and to get in pads and hit people.  I've been waiting for it and I'm excited.  I haven't been able to sleep because I'm so ready.  I'm feeling good and I'm in way better shape, with a lot of muscle.  I'm 6-7, 315, right now and ready to play."


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