2023 OT Payton Kirkland talks Saturday visit to FSU, scrimmage

Multiple prospects were on Florida State’s campus this past weekend to watch the first open scrimmage of the spring. Top 2023 offensive tackle Payton Kirkland made the trip up from Orlando with a group of recruits from his area to check out the action. His trainer, Aaron Jones, played at FSU from 2004-06 on the defensive line.

“My trainer, Aaron Jones, he played at Florida State,” Kirkland said. “He took me and a couple of other guys like TJ Shanahan [2023 OL] and Derrick Leblanc [2023 DL] up there to check out the campus and around the town. Then we went to watch the scrimmage.”

Kirkland was in Tallahassee around this time last year, where he was able to watch one of the few spring practices the program held before COVID-19 shut everything down. He enjoyed watching coach Atkins and the level of intensity that was brought to the scrimmage.

“It just furthered my opinion on what a practice is like for them,” Kirkland said. “Last year I was there around March 13 for a spring practice and it was very high intensity. I love that about Florida State’s program.”

The Dr. Phillips High School product also spent some time walking around the campus and learning more about the city. He’s hoping to return to Florida State around June and would also like to see some other schools once the dead period is officially lifted.

“My favorite part was the stadium and outside of the stadium,” Kirkland said. “It’s a great school, it’s a great town, I love the environment. I would like to see some other schools once the dead period is lifted.”

Early on in his high school career, it’s clear that Kirkland has the potential to be one of the top offensive tackles in his class and colleges have taken notice of that. He’s already earned 41 offers, including Texas A&M, Oregon, Tennessee, and many more since the new year began. No one is standing out just yet.

“I wouldn’t say anybody is starting to stand out but there are some teams recruiting me hard like Texas A&M, Florida State, Ohio State, Arizona State, USC, and some others.”

The Orlando native has multiple connections to the Seminoles. Not just through Aaron Jones but also 2013 national champion Kenny Shaw, who coaches at his high school. Kirkland and Shaw have built a solid relationship and he also grew up a fan of FSU. He’s looking forward to seeing the program get back to prominence.

“I’ve got a lot of connections to Florida State such as coach Jones and Kenny Shaw, who coaches at my school,” Kirkland said. “I’ve been up there before and they were one of my childhood favorite teams. I’d like to see where this program goes, they’ve hit a couple bumps in the road over the past few years so I just want to see where it goes.”

His main communication with the coaching staff has been with offensive line coach Alex Atkins and head coach Mike Norvell. Kirkland reflects what we’ve heard from multiple other recruits in that Atkins is a very genuine coach and is straight up in his approach.

“My best relationship is with coach Atkins,” Kirkland said. “I talk to coach Norvell probably like once a month. Everything is set up through my coaches and they tell me when to call.”

“Coach Atkins is a really relatable guy as one of the younger coaches in college football,” Kirkland continued. “We talk football a lot, we don’t talk recruitment that much. He’s a great guy really. If you want to come to his school, he wants you to come, he’s not going to make something seem like what it’s not.”

The 6-foot-7, 315-pound offensive tackle figures to be one of the top prospects on Florida State’s wish list in #Tribe23. He’s not currently ranked in the 2023 class according to 247Sports.

Keep up with NoleGameday for the latest on Kirkland’s recruitment and development over his last two years of high school.

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