Back Christian Kirk, a Rare Superstar

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Christian Kirk, a Rare Superstar

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Of all of the versatile talents to play college football, few have done what Christian Kirk just did.

Over the last ten years, the only players with more than 75 receptions to score multiple PR TDs and average over 13 yards per attempt in a season are Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Jamison Crowder, Tyler Lockett and Kirk -- twice.

Christian Kirk finished his career with 4,838 all-purpose yards and 33 total touchdowns. He ranks third in SEC history with 234 career receptions and slots second all-time with six punt returns for touchdown. Kirk is prominently featured all throughout the league record book; remarkably, he only played three years. Now that Kirk's tenure is complete, fresh off touching the football a 17 times in his final game, is time to officially recognize Kirk for what he is: one of the most dynamic players, ever in the SEC.  

Of all of the versatile talents to play college football, few have done what Kirk just did.

The all-time FBS leader in career punt return average, meeting a minimum of 1.2 returns per game and 30 attempts, is Jack Mitchell of Oklahoma at 23.6 yards per try; Kirk, just missing that threshold, stands at 22. With respect to Earl Bennett and Jordan Matthews, Kirk has the most catches of any non-Vanderbilt player in SEC history. Speaking to that dual-threat ability, Kirk, compiling 1,631 all-purpose yards in 2016, both led the nation in punt returns for score and led the league in receptions.   

A Scottsdale-native Kirk, fascinatingly enough, played his first-ever game for Texas A&M against the program he grew up just a few miles from in Arizona State. The first time he took a punt back, against a team located right down the road from where he did it countless times as a prep star, it went 79 yards for a touchdown.

Memories like those are many. In Kirk's SEC debut, he caught eight passes for 173 yards and two scores, beating Arkansas with a touchdown catch in overtime. As a sophomore, Kirk set a record by taking two punts back to the house, adding another score through the air, against New Mexico State. He, this past fall, beat the Razorbacks with a clinching catch in OT, a second TD catch on the day, also adding a 100-yard kickoff return mere minutes before. Kirk's final outing resulted in new highs in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.

Fittingly, the big stage has always been the best showcase for Kirk's big plays. In three games against top-ranked Alabama, he caught 20 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns, adding a 68-yard punt return for six. In four neutral site games in NFL stadiums, three in Dallas and another in Houston, Kirk caught 22 passes for 414 yards and six touchdowns, with both a kick and punt return for score. In three bowl games, he caught 29 passes for 359 yards and four touchdowns.    

Three seasons, for Kirk, basically roll into one long highlight. For point of reference, his all-purpose yardage total of 4,838 almost meets the iconic Bo Jackson's mark of 4,892.  

Over the last ten years, the only players in college football with more than 75 receptions to score multiple punt return touchdowns and average over 13 yards per attempt in a single season are Antonio Brown, Dez Bryant, Jamison Crowder, Tyler Lockett and Kirk -- twice. 

A glance back may be a blur, but a look ahead should come with clarity and conviction; Kirk is poised to be a consistent difference-maker at the next level, one worthy of a first round NFL Draft pick. The versatility Kirk possesses sets him apart, coming with a wide-array of options for the team that selects him. For all of his athletic gifts, Kirk, perhaps above all else, has an instinctive on-field feel that powers his production.

Kirk, who scored five touchdowns in his first four college games, is primed and ready for the upcoming transition, poised to make an impact right away. The SEC simply has not seen many talents quite like Kirk, who is sprinting full-speed towards all that lies ahead.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports