Highlights and Analysis: LB Josh Kirkland

Josh Kirkland

Josh Kirkland gave his commitment to Syracuse coaches on Thursday night while Doug Marrone and company were at his home, so let's take a closer look at the junior college prospect.

Josh Kirkland saw plenty of success at Butler Community College in Kansas, helping the team to an 11-1 record. The program has top-tier talent year-in, year-out, and Kirkland may be one of the next in line to represent the college at the BCS level.

The sophomore linebacker, who stands 6-foot-3, 211 pounds, is a new-age edge player. As most defenses move towards featuring a hybrid pass rusher and edge linebacker on either side of the line, Kirlkand fits the mold both in measurables and in talent.

He's not the most gifted pass-rusher, but his high motor and downhill strength makes him difficult to block. Kirland's biggest strength may be his will to get to the ball carrier combined with an ability to punish him on contact. He seems to specialize on big hits and timely plays with good anticipatory skills and disciplined pursuit with angles and an understanding of leverage.

Bottom line, Kirkland is a football player. He is versatile enough to play pass coverage at times, but he does not separate well enough from blocker based on the allotted film. Adding weight and strength will help his dis-engaging skills. It works both ways, however, considering his prowess as a pass-deflection specialist.

Kirkland has a good gauge on how quarterbacks release the ball, and he often gets his hands in the air in a timely fashion when he struggles to get to the quarterback on passing plays. It results in several knock-downs, executed with his length and jumping ability.

The Syracuse staff recruited the prospect to play outside linebacker while on the hill, but defensive end should not be ruled out. His skill-set may translate better there based on the available tape, though a lot of that has to do with Butler's 3-4 defensive scheme. Syracuse runs a variation of that and a traditional 4-3 as well, so Kirkland will have plenty of time to adjust to the nuances of Scott Shafer and his scheme.

Take a look at Kirkland in action from this past season in the highlight video obtained and edited by CuseNation.com below.

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