University of Iowa Hawkeyes
St. Louis, Missouri
Hazelwood East High School
In a "perfect world," when the Rams make a selection on draft day, Kirksey hopes that the team will announce his name, as it has been the St. Louis native's dream top one day play for the team that featured his idol and former high school coach, Super Bowl hero, Mike Jones, presently the head coach at Lincoln University.
Much like Jones, Kirksey is a self-made player whose stellar performance on special teams and in practices as a freshman convinced Hawkeyes coaches to insert him into the lineup at strong-side outside linebacker prior to his sophomore campaign. Kirksey would not relinquish the position until he graduated 38 games later. By the time his Iowa career ended, he had recorded 315 tackles, ranking 15th on the school's all-time record list.
One of three defensive players in school history to record three touchdowns (two via interceptions and one on a fumble recovery), Kirksey teamed with middle linebacker James Morris to combine for 715 tackles, the most for any active linebacker tandem in the NCAA Football Bowl Subdivision ranks in 2013.
Collecting tackles in bunches has always been Kirksey's pattern. He amassed 89 tackles with a sack, three stops-for-loss and an interception during his first year as a starter in 2008, earning All-Conference and All-Metro honors during his two seasons with the varsity.
As a 200-pound linebacker and fullback, Kirksey added All-American and All-State recognition as a senior. He led the conference with 163 tackles that included three sacks and nine stops behind the line of scrimmage in 2009. He also set up a pair of touchdown drives with two interceptions. He also lettered in track, helping the team win the state outdoor championship as a member of the relay teams during his junior campaign.
Limited to special teams as his once 200-pound frame began to fill out, Kirkey had just six assisted tackles for Iowa as a true freshman. In 2011, he stepped into the lineup at strong-side linebacker. He tied for the team lead with a career-high 110 tackles (62 solos) with five stops for loss, also causing two fumbles that Iowa recovered during his sophomore year.
As a junior, Kirksey was named team captain. He produced 95 tackles, third-best on the team, returning both of his interceptions for touchdowns. He just missed scoring for a third time when he advanced a fumble recovery 45 yards and all four of his fumble recoveries led to Hawkeyes scoring drives.
Selected to play in the 2014 Senior Bowl after the 2013 season Kirksey closed out his career by finishing third on the team with 104 tackles in 2013. He had five stops behind the line of scrimmage and caused three interceptions from his seven QB pressures, earning National Player of the Week honors after registering three stops-for-loss among his 11 tackles vs. Nebraska.
Kirksey started the final 38 games of his 49-game career at Iowa, finishing 15th in school history with 315 tackles (151 solos), becoming only the third player in Iowa annals to score three defensive touchdowns during a career…Gained 91 yards with two touchdowns via four interception returns and 97 yards on two fumble recoveries that included his third score…Had 5.5 sacks for minus 40 yards, 13.5 stops for losses of 60 yards and eight QB pressures…Caused five fumbles, recovered seven others and deflected six passes.