The Texas wide receiver with Bermuda links
Local American college football enthusiasts have good reason to keep tabs on Christian Kirk, the Texas A&M wide receiver and special teams player.
He is the grandson of the late Florence Thomas-Kirk who lived on North Shore, Pembroke and taught locally before moving to Indianapolis.
Kirk is enjoying a phenomenal start to his college career and posted career-high numbers in all purpose yardage and a pair of touchdowns, including the game-winner in Texas A&M’s 28-21 overtime victory over Arkansas at the AT&T Stadium, home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, at the weekend.
He piled up 174 receiving yards with eight catches, 77 yards on four kick-off returns and had one carry for five yards.
“What you have seen, if you saw the game on Saturday, is just passion for the sport and that’s why Christian is so successful,” Evan Kirk, Christian’s father, said. “He is passionate about the game and works really hard at it through discipline and staying dedicated.”
Saturday’s performance was Kirk’s third 100-yard receiving game in just his fourth game with Texas.
He has already matched the freshman season school record of three 100-yard games, set by Uzoma Nwachukwu in 2009 and matched by Mike Evans in 2012, having piled up 106 receiving yards against Arizona State and 137 yards against Nevada.
The 5ft 11in 200lb wide receiver’s outstanding performance earned him Southeastern Conference weekly honours for the second time this season, after claiming the Freshman of the Week award for his game one heroics in Texas’s victory over Arizona State.
Prior to enrolling at Texas in January, Kirk thrived at the varsity level with Saguaro High School in Arizona.
As a sophomore he had 43 catches for 1,003 yards and 13 touchdowns and averaged 16.6 yards per carry as a rusher, while on defence he had 23 tackles and four picks and returned a punt for a touchdown.
As a junior, Kirk gained more than 2,000 all-purpose yards, including 1,183 receiving yards and 832 rushing yards and achieved 33 touchdowns, including 17 as a receiver, 13 as a rusher and three as a returner. On defence he contributed 55 tackles and two picks.
He surpassed the 3,000-yard level in all-purpose yardage as a senior, including nearly 1,700 as a rusher and 1,200 as a receiver, rushed for 1,692 yards and 25 touchdowns and reeled in 61 catches for 1,187 yards and 17 scores.
He also scored on punt and kick-off returns, while on defence he had 49 tackles and four interceptions, including two that he returned for touchdowns.
During his varsity career Kirk earned numerous accolades, including being chosen as Division III Player of the Year, Arizona Gatorade Player of the Year, First Team MaxPreps All-American and Under Armour All-American.
Kirk chose to play for Texas over Arizona State, Auburn, USC and UCLA.
“As parents we feel very proud of Christian’s accomplishments and we attribute a lot of what he is doing right now to his maturity,” Evan Kirk added.
“He loves the game and really enjoys being around the sport and getting out there to compete.
“He just works hard to be the best player that he can be whether that be training or watching film ... just being a real student of the game.”
The Texas A&M player first visited Bermuda in 1998 to attend his grandmother’s funeral.
“Christian has been to Bermuda and experienced it and he just loves Bermuda,” Evan Kirk said.
“He wants to come back a lot more once his football becomes a little more manageable and things wind down for him. So you will probably see a lot of him on the Island because he loves the climate.”