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August 1, 2009
Countdown to kickoff: No.24 James Kirkendoll
Position: Wide receiver
Prep credentials: The former Round Rock star was a four-star prospect (5.8) that was ranked as the nation's No.27 wide receiver and he was a member of the Rivals 250. Kirkendoll was ranked No.61 in the Lone Star Recruiting Rankings and No.33 in the Rivals Texas Top 100.
Click here to see Kirkendoll's high school film
2008 stats: Started five of 13 games last season, including the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State, and caught 21 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown.
Career stats: In 17 career games (five starts), Kirkendoll has accumulated 21 catches for 221 yards and a touchdown.
Kirkendoll's 2008 highlight film from UT's official website
Best game in 2008: Kirkendoll saves his best for last in 2008, as he set career highs in catches (five) and yards (41) in the Fiesta Bowl win over Ohio State, while also making one of the most important plays of the season with his fourth down catch on the team's final game-winning drive.
Scouting Report: The 5-11, 180-pound Kirkendoll was a secondary player within the offense in 2008, but after a terrific spring (several sources felt like he was the spring MVP on offense) he has positioned himself to become a vital component in the passing game this season. When Kirkendoll first came into the Texas program, there were questions about his ability to run good routes and how long it might take him to adjust to the nuances of the position at this level. Well, he proved early on that making the needed adjustments wouldn't be a problem and he's emerged in his third year as one of the team's top route runners. Kirkendoll's a tough guy to jam up at the line of scrimmage because he's very quick off the ball and his strength is underrated. He's not one of these 5-11, 180-pound receivers that falls to the ground upon contact. His cuts and breaks in his routes are so sharp that he almost always creates good separation underneath, which means he's got room to move after the catch, but he's yet to prove that he can be an above-average after-the-catch threat. Quite a bit of that can directly be tied to his role within the offense, which will be expanded this season, but was limited in both touches and the types of touches he received in 2007-08.
The big hope There's nearly 100 catches worth of production that the Longhorns are looking to replace with the departure of Quan Cosby. As Kirkendoll enters his third season and into a comfort zone as a player, his great combination of quickness and speed will finally translate into him becoming a true impact player in the Big 12.
The big worry As great as Kirkendoll looked this spring, it's hard to remember a lot of wow moments for the third-year sophomore up until now. Until he shows some game-breaking skill in game action, there will be concerns that he's nothing more than a decent No.4 or No.5 receiver. His 10.5 yards per carry as a receiver ranked second to last among the seven receivers on the roster that caught passes in a game. Only the departed Montre Webber had a lower YAC. Also, his touchdown-per-receptions ratio was nearly twice as high (22:1) as any receiver on the team.
Did you know? was a member of the Greater Central Texas Youth Association and volunteered for Meals on Wheels, Coats for Tots and Blue Santa.
NFL Scouting report:"He's really not a guy that's on the radar yet. He still has a lot to do."
The bottom line: As Kirkendoll heads into his junior season, he's probably flying a little under the radar after mostly serving an apprenticeship in his first two seasons. He certainly won't have to worry about a limited role this season because he's going to be a weekly starter and he could easily double or triple his output from 2008, but it's going to require him kicking things up a notch. Doing it on the field in the spring is one thing and doing it in game action when the lights are shining bright is another. The good news is that Kirkendoll is a seriously determined athlete that's been waiting for his opportunity and the game seems to be slowing down and becoming much easier for him. Now is his time.