"Toward the end there, it was pretty crazy with the offers from Oregon and Washington so late the process, but it was great getting those offers because it was nice to get the recognition for all of the hard work I put in," Kirkland told Dawgman.com. "It wasn't easy to switch up my commitment (to UCLA), especially so late in the process, but I had to follow my heart and I've been dreaming about being a Husky since I was a little kid."
Kirkland never got the chance to take an official visit to Montlake, but he did manage to take a couple of unofficial visits during his junior season.
"The campus, the coaches, the program, the tradition, it has it all up there and with my dad (Dean) being a former player, it just was the best fit for me and was a goal of mine to play for them my whole life," Kirkland added.
When he called the Husky coaches shortly before Signing Day, Kirkland said his first call was to head coach Chris Petersen.
"He was totally fired up to have me and they love to send out those 'Woof' tweets," Jackson said with a chuckle. "When I told coach (Chris) Strausser he said he was going to tweet that the 'Dawgs just got tougher' and then he did it. It was pretty special for me and for my family."
Speaking of Strausser, when he left, it surprised Kirkland a bit, but he's already formed a good relationship with new offensive line coach Scott Huff.
"It was a huge surprise because I know coach Strausser has been with coach Petersen for a long time, but coach Huff is a great guy and I've formed a good early relationship with him," Kirkland noted. "He just seems like a real down to earth guy, more like one of the guys, but he's smart and he knows how to coach his guys to get the best out of them."
Kirkland has come a long way from the gangly kid who couldn't even get on the field as a sophomore.
“When I was a freshman, I was 6’2 and I grew too fast, so it’s taken me some time to ‘grow’ into my body,” Kirkland told Dawgman.com back in 2015. “I didn’t play much last year (as a sophomore), mainly just special teams and as a backup, so this is really my first year starting."
As a junior he managed to hold down the left tackle spot on one of the top teams in state and this past season, his senior season, he was able to lock down his side, earning First Team All-State honors.
Since he signed over three months ago, Kirkland has been hard at work getting ready for the start of his Husky career.
"I'm 6'7", 320 right now and the coaches told me that's perfect," Kirkland said. "I've just been working out and getting into the best shape I can be before I get up there."
Kirkland and most of the rest of the 2017 class will report to campus on June 24th to begin the LEAP program in preparation for the start of Fall camp in early August.