Texas football got the 20th commit in the 2023 recruiting class this weekend by landing the touted and sizable 6-foot-6 and 345-pound four-star Dr. Phillips (FL) offensive tackle Payton Kirkland on July 23. Landing Kirkland also likely rounds out the 2023 OL recruiting for offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Kyle Flood and this staff.
This commitment from Kirkland now makes it five offensive line recruits in the mix for the Longhorns 2023 class. He’s also the second blue-chip offensive line commit in the 2023 class along with the highly touted four-star Harker Heights (TX) offensive tackle Jaydon Chatman.
But what makes this commitment from the Florida native Kirkland this weekend so special for Flood and the Longhorns was how it came to be. A report from Chad Simmons of On3 this weekend illustrates how crucial the connection was that Flood built a long time ago with Kirkland that eventually paid dividends in the form of a commitment in the Longhorns 2023 class.
Flood reportedly was recruiting Kirkland since his freshman season at high school. At the time, Flood was still the offensive line coach under head coach Nick Saban with the Alabama Crimson Tide.
And Flood kept building this connection with Kirkland right through his July 23 commitment date.
Kirkland noted this weekend that the “communication never really stopped” between him and the Longhorns staff (specifically Flood). He also stated that Texas “was always in his back pocket” and then the Longhorns eventually were “leading the way”.
And that’s what resulted in Flood and the Longhorns closing down this recruitment on the evening of July 23.
Texas football OL coach Kyle Flood deserves a ton of credit for landing 4-Star OT Payton Kirkland
Here’s more on what Kirkland had to say about his relationship with Flood and the Longhorns that eventually won him over.
“Me and Coach Flood’s relationship, it really extends past football,” Kirkland said. “It’s not really just a college football coach-recruiter type of relationship.
Regarding Sarkisian, Kirkland believes he is an offensive “mastermind.” In addition to his strong track record on offense, he shared how Texas’ head coach is “all about people.”
“He’s a great people person,” Kirkland said. “His players all feel like they’re at home and it feels like a family over there.”
Kirkland also built a close bond with running backs coach Tashard Choice. He called him “like a cousin.”
It’s also worth noting here that new running backs coach Tashard Choice also played a critical role in getting the commitment of Kirkland to the Longhorns. Choice was also one of the Texas coaches that Kirkland communicated with on a consistent basis this offseason.
All in all, we need to give credit where credit is due on the recruiting trail. Flood has really elevated the offensive line recruiting for the Longhorns in the last two cycles in a way that many Texas fans likely couldn’t dream of during the Tom Herman/Herb Hand-era on the Forty Acres.
Texas signed one of the best offensive line recruiting classes in the last few decades during the 2022 cycle. Flood and the Longhorns are well on their way to signing another impressive and deep OL class for the 2023 cycle with the finishing touch in place following the commitment of Kirkland.
All of the offensive line commits in the Longhorns 2023 class arrived just in the last couple of months. The other three offensive line commits in the mix in the Longhorns 2023 class are three-star Frisco-Wakeland offensive tackle Connor Stroh, three-star Melissa offensive tackle and former TCU Horned Frogs commit Trevor Goosby, and three-star Mansfield Timberview interior offensive lineman Andre Cojoe.