After a tumultuous 2015 season that saw SEC title hopes fizzle and his top two quarterbacks transfer, Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin can thank his lucky stars he has Christian Kirk on his side.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound wide receiver and kick returner extraordinaire from Scottsdale, Ariz., was named a Freshman All-American last season. He was sensational, leading the Aggies with 80 receptions for 1,009 yards and seven touchdowns. He also returned two punts for touchdowns and was a threat to go all the way each time he hauled in a kickoff or punt.
He was simply a human highlight film.
Kirk is also showing to be quite a mature young man for being one year removed from high school. On Monday, he stepped in front of the media microphones to discuss his place in the program and his thoughts when roommate and A&M quarterback Kyle Allen abruptly decided to transfer.
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Here’s what Kirk had to say:
“This is my situation. I came here because I love Texas A&M,” Kirk said. “I said that before and I’ll say it again, I came here because this is the best fit for me. I love all my teammates here. Every time somebody asks me, ‘if you could do it all over again, would you go somewhere else?’ No, especially after the season I had last year, just with the relationships that I made with the people on the field, on the team and even off the field, just regular students. It’s an awesome place and I love to be here.”
That has to be music to his coach’s ears. Sumlin will need to lean heavily on players like Kirk and star defensive end Myles Garrett to keep morale high heading into 2016, the Aggies’ fifth season in the SEC. A&M hasn’t won more than four conference games since going 6-2 in their inaugural SEC season in 2012 when Johnny Manziel won the Heisman Trophy.
Kirk will be relied upon to follow up his electrifying freshman season with an even bigger sophomore campaign on both special teams and on offense, in which a new quarterback, possibly Oklahoma senior transfer Trevor Knight, will take over.
At least with leadership from the likes of Kirk, the Aggies stand a strong chance of uniting, and putting last season’s upheaval behind them.