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Virginia Tech is starting to build a stronger recruiting presence in the Midwest, but they have always had connections in the Indianapolis area. Those associations led them to four-star Indianapolis Lawrence Central junior linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr., who visited Blacksburg on Saturday.
"It was my first time ever coming close to Virginia, so it was definitely a new experience," Kirkland said. "They offered me earlier in the season and I just wanted to see what they were all about, get that experience of the game, the stadium and just the whole environment. Even though they did lose the game in overtime, it was a great experience."
Virginia Tech has pulled several players out of the Indianapolis area over the years, including former Hokies running back Darren Evans. Kirkland is familiar with those connections.
"Aaron Moorehead, the recruiting coordinator for this area, played for the Indianapolis Colts so that's his connection," Kirkland said. "Our defensive coordinator, (Steve) Tutsie, based our defense off Coach (Bud) Foster's defense, so they have a really great relationship. Coach Tutsie stays close with pretty much their whole staff."
Watching Saturday's game at Lane Stadium, Kirkland saw plenty that was familiar in the Hokie's defense.
"Their linebackers play just the way I play - all over the field, 100 miles per hour," Kirkland said. "It was pretty fun to watch and I saw Coach Foster making calls that were pretty familiar."
Kirkland made the trip to Blacksburg with his parents, and he came away from the trip with a stronger appreciation for the Virginia Tech program.
"I did have a great vibe about it when I first pulled up," he said. "Tailgating was wild, and going the stadium the fans were jumping around and acting crazy, so it was a really good environment. My family liked it a lot too. It's only seven hours from home, so they were comfortable enough (with the distance) and they liked it a lot.
"It definitely gave me a really clear vision for what they have going for me. I feel really high on Virginia Tech right now, so I am just excited about that offer and it is a school I will really consider in my recruitment from now on."
Kirkland will finish out the month of November with game visits to Northwestern (Nov. 23) and Michigan (Nov. 30). The Wildcats are the most recent team to offer, notifying Kirkland just this past Monday.
"It has great appeal just because of the university's standards academically," Kirkland said of the Northwestern offer. (The offer) gave me a sense of accomplishment because it shows the hard work on my academics and where my academics can take me."
Josh Helmholdt is the Midwest Region football recruiting analyst for Rivals.com. You can click here to follow him on Twitter.
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