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Jeff Banks
Christian Kirk
Texas A&M Football

Jeff Banks, Christian Kirk break down Aggies' early spring progress

March 7, 2016
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Above: Watch Jeff Banks and Christian Kirk speak with the media following Monday's practice.

Just as he was last football season, Christian Kirk will be a prime target next autumn.

Texas A&M quarterbacks won’t be alone in targeting him, though.

Kirk immediately established himself as one of the nation’s top big-play threats in 2015 as he posted a dozen plays that covered 30 yards or more en route to earning All-SEC recognition as a kick returner and Freshman All-American honors.

A&M quarterbacks Trevor Knight and Jake Hubenak know Kirk can produce with the football in his hands.

Of course, so do opposing defenses, which could make it very difficult for Kirk to match last season’s totals of 80 catches for 1,009 yards and seven touchdowns.

“I know I’m going to have a target on my back just because of the season I had last season,” Kirk said after Monday’s spring practice session. “Defenses are going to do more things to try to stop me. That just comes along with me getting better on the field.

“It’s more on me to try to match that production. But I don’t try to let the pressure get to me. At the end of the day – like my father always said – just go out and play your game. You’ve been playing football all your life. Have fun and it should come.”

Success has always come to Kirk. Indeed, it came immediately during his spectacular freshman season when he caught six passes for 106 yards and a touchdown and returned a punt 79 yards for a touchdown in a 38-17 season-opening victory over Arizona State.

Lindsay Caudle, TexAgs Kirk burst onto the national radar as a freshman before wearing down as the season went on, but he's ready to take the next step. {"Module":"photo","Alignment":"left","Size":"large","Caption":"Kirk burst onto the national radar as a freshman before wearing down as the season went on, but he\u0027s ready to take the next step.","MediaItemID":67433}
However, Kirk admitted to hitting the proverbial “freshman wall” midway through last season.

His production began to decline in late October. He had just two catches for 16 yards in a loss to Ole Miss and did not manage more than 54 receiving yards or a single touchdown against FBS opponents in the last half of the regular season.

However, after getting a chance to rest he came back strong in the Music City Bowl with 10 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown against Louisville.

Kirk said he’s working hard to ensure he avoids the slump and has a even better sophomore campaign.

“I didn’t really have the burst and get-up that I did. Those miles started adding up,” Kirk said. “That’s one thing I’ve really focused on this spring and for this season is to keep my body at the high performance level it needs to be at for the whole, entire season.”

Some might wonder if Kirk’s numbers could diminish in new offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone’s system.

That’s unlikely. Any offensive coordinator, especially one as experienced as Mazzone, can identify a special talent and devise ways to get him the football.

Mazzone will.

Rather, the primary reason to wonder whether Kirk can maintain or exceed his freshman production may depend on his kick return duties and the abilities of A&M’s quarterbacks.

Last year he averaged 24.4 yards on 14 punt returns and 19.2 yards on 20 kickoff returns.

Special teams coach Jeff Banks admitted there is some concern about demanding too much from Kirk.

“You don’t want to do it (return kicks) at the expense of him being a great receiver,” Banks said.

Fortunately, Speedy Noil, Justin Evans and Nick Harvey are also dangerous kick returners, so if Kirk starts to slow down the Aggies have other options.

The bigger concern about his production is the A&M quarterbacks.

Kirk had a close relationship with Kyle Allen, last year’s starting quarterback. They’re both from Arizona and were roommates last season.

Will he be able to develop the same kind of rapport with Knight and Hubenak? Will they be as adept at throwing to him?

Kirk doesn’t appear too worried.

I came here because I love Texas A&M. I came here because this is the best fit for me. I love my teammates. Every time somebody asks me, 'If you could do it all over again, would you go somewhere else?' (I’d say) No. - Christian Kirk {"Module":"quote","Alignment":"right","Quote":"I came here because I love Texas A\u0026M. I came here because this is the best fit for me. I love my teammates. Every time somebody asks me, \u0027If you could do it all over again, would you go somewhere else?\u0027 (I’d say) No.","Author":"Christian Kirk"}
“Those two guys are great guys,” Kirk said. “They’re easy to like and easy to talk to. Day one when Trevor showed up it was just like talking to a friend that I’ve known for a while. They’re both very mature and know the game very well.

"It’s just a bonding thing. The more you spend time with them the more you get to know what they do in certain situations. It’s just getting things down on the field. You’ve got to know what they do in certain situations and how they’re going to react.”

Many wondered how Kirk would react after Allen left. There was some question whether he would follow Allen out of town.

Kirk said that was never an option.

“I came here because I love Texas A&M,” he said. “I came here because this is the best fit for me. I love my teammates. Every time somebody asks me, 'If you could do it all over again, would you go somewhere else?' (I’d say) No, especially after the season I had last year and with the relationships I made on the field and even off the field with regular students. It’s an awesome place and I love being here.”

A&M coaches and quarterbacks love that he’s here, too.
Discussion from...

Jeff Banks, Christian Kirk break down Aggies' early spring progress

11,830 Views | 8 Replies | Last: 8 yr ago by EAgg
Olin Buchanan
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Staff
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Jeff Banks, Christian Kirk break down Aggies' early spring progress
TheSwingingGate
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AG
Great insight. Happily answers questions with good info.
Thanks Coach Banks!
PharmD4
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AG
Banks and Kirk. Great stuff from both.
budaag1
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rocky the dog
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AG
quote:
A&M coaches and quarterbacks love that he's here, too.

And so do we.
tbone421998
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Mr. Black
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Agman13
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