UW Visits Kirkland

Andrew Kirkland is just carrying on a proud Jesuit tradition when he helps lead the Jesuit Crusaders toward a possible sixth state football title. The quest continues Saturday in a battle of one versus two in the state when the Crusaders play Eugene Sheldon at JeldWen Field in the 6A semis.

"It never gets old," the 6-foot-5, 290-pound offensive lineman told FoxSportsNEXT this week. "It gets better and better every time you play. The feeling builds a little bit more because this is my last year playing high school football. It's a lot bigger than it was last year. We're going to be ready to play Saturday."

It's been a busy week for Kirkland, who is also verbally committed to Washington. His family hosted UW OL Coach Dan Cozzetto this week during an in-home visit. "I'm still committed, I'm not changing my mind about that," Kirkland said, matter-of-factly. "It was a great visit to reassure that and I'm really just looking forward to getting up there. Also really looking forward to this weekend - it should be a pretty fun game."

The winner of Jesuit-Sheldon will play either Tigard or Lake Oswego next weekend for the honor of calling themselves 6A State Champions for 2012. Even with the rivalry between Jesuit and L-O, Kirkland isn't worried about next week. "I don't have a favorite," he said. "It doesn't matter to me. I'm just going to focus on this week, and that's how we're going to get to next week."

Kirkland keeps in regular contact with the Washington coaches, and this week's in-home visit was just one more piece of the process as the Huskies wind down to Signing Day, which falls on February 6th, 2013. "I've been up there a couple of times so they got to talk to them but not for a long period of time - like a meet and greet," Kirkland said. "But this is the first time we all sat down and had a great conversation."

"(Cozzetto) came out and watched practice for a little bit and then met me at my house and we had a nice conversation. He was telling me about all the professional players he's put in the league and telling me I can be something special. He was talking about the school and how the school has a number of connections, like Amazon, Nordstroms, the Boeing Company and all that stuff. He was telling me how I can be a successful person along with being a football player if I have that drive and motivation."

Kirkland plays right tackle for the Crusaders, but has the versatility to play any number of spots along the offensive line. "My Dad actually asked that question," he said when asked if the Huskies have told him about their plans for him on the field. "I play right side, but he said you'll play left side and everywhere along the line. He teaches us all how to snap, so I can pretty much play anywhere along the line. Wherever he puts me, I just want to play. He said the best players will play, and they just need to get me up there and running through the system. We'll see."

Kirkland is looking to maybe take his official visit the second weekend of January, but it hasn't been set in stone yet. "They'll be done with their bowl game and you can just spend more time with them," he said, explaining the reasons for wanting to take his trip then. "The kids will still be on campus, so you'll still be able to see what a day there is like." He took an unofficial visit to UW when they played USC. "I watched all their other games on TV, so I know what they are doing and learning a little bit more about them," Kirkland added. "I watch them all the time and I can't wait to play for them."

Kirkland is also keeping in touch with other committed linemen, like Dane Crane and Sean Harlow - as well as others - so he has become a bit of a recruiter for the Huskies. "I'm trying to target some of those guys that aren't really sure where they want to go yet," he said. "So I've been talking to guys like Brayden (Kearsley) and Na'Ty Rodgers." He's also taking full advantage of all the social networking tools available to make contact with prospects that aren't right in the 503. "It makes it a lot easier, because it's hard sometimes to get in touch with guys out of state if you don't have their phone numbers, but Facebook and Twitter make it a lot easier," he added.

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