Drawing it up: James Kirkendoll
Jan. 3, 2010
Ashley Walker, Texas Media Relations
With the Longhorns preparing to play on the biggest stage in college football, it's a scenario junior WR James Kirkendoll and his teammates envisioned drawing up literally and figuratively entering the 2009 season.
“When you get the chance to play with guys like Quan and Jordan, you pretty much learn what to do in those certain situations, because they’re really good,” he said. “They help you with little things like route running and technique and I just think I’m real blessed. Just to play with both of them has been an honor.”
Kirkendoll is no stranger to the big stage himself as he made a catch on fourth-and-three with under a minute remaining that set up the Longhorns' game-winning score in last year’s Fiesta Bowl.
With Thursday’s National Championship game against the Alabama Crimson Tide just a few days away, Kirkendoll knows he will be able to rely on his past experiences to perform in a BCS atmosphere.
“It helps because I’ve been there and I know what to expect in these types of games,” he added. “I just have to relax and play my game, let the game come to me.”
Kirkendoll has been able to let the game come to him throughout his career. Just this season alone, the junior has caught 48 passes for 461 yards and six touchdowns.
Along with learning from his current and former teammates, Kirkendoll has also been able to lean on wide receivers coach Bobby Kennedy whose low-key teaching philosophy has helped him develop and gain confidence in any situation.
“Bobby Kennedy has been a great teacher, he’s been like a father away from home,” Kirkendoll said. “As a coach, he really knows how to develop his players. He’s a real positive coach. He’s not one to yell and get up in your face. He kind of just pulls you aside, tells you what you did wrong and gets his message across.”
Not only does Kirkendoll take notes on handling pressure from his teammates and coaches, the Round Rock native also falls back on his favorite hobby of drawing and sketching to help him try and stay relaxed.
“I usually draw a lot in my free time, it really relaxes me,” he explained. “I like to draw pictures before games, the night before games, just to get my mind off football for a little bit and just relax.”
When asked whether he got any creative inspiration from the team’s trip to Disneyland earlier in the week, Kirkendoll chuckled.
Whether it's learning from Shipley and Kennedy or drawing in his sketchbook, when the biggest game of the year arrives on Thursday, the junior will be prepared to handle the situation.
“Playing in the National Championship game is a great opportunity, not just for me, but for everybody,” Kirkendoll said. “It was our goal to get here, now we're going to try to get our dream.”