Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. is already on his way in the recruiting process with scholarship offers, but he added two more this weekend from Big Ten programs Illinois and Indiana.
The offer from Illinois kicked off Kirkland's weekend. He received word from the Illini on Friday night.
"I had talked to Coach [Tim] Beckman a couple times before, but [the offer] just came out of the blue Friday evening," Kirkland said. "I talked to Coach Beckman and Coach [Mike] Bellamy, and they like my tenacity on the field, think I am a great blitzer and could be a hybrid for them."
Kirkland may not have been expecting the offer from Illinois when it came, but he goes into this recruitment with family connections to the program.
"My uncle [Aaron Shelby] played middle linebacker for them in the early 90's," Kirkland said. "He is the only D-1 football player in my family, so Illinois football has always been in my family."
Kirkland has heard good things about Illinois' campus from his uncle, but has not visited the school himself yet.
The rising junior linebacker had visited Indiana on a recruiting visit before. He returned on Sunday for his second visit to the school, and landed his second Big Ten offer of the weekend.
"Coach [Kevin] Wilson told me originally," Kirkland said. "When he offered me the scholarship he said this was not the time to commit right away, he just wanted to let me know they were serious about me as a player and want to build this relationship over the next two years."
The offer from Indiana gives Kirkland the option to stay close to home and represent an in-state school.
"That semi-appeals to me," Kirkland said. "I am more of a homebody, so I don't want to go far for college, and home state would be nice."
Kirkland was one of several dozen recruits in Bloomington on Sunday for a recruiting event in conjunction with the Hoosier's opening of team camp.
"I thought it was fun," Kirkland said. "The IU football program has really stepped up these past few years with the job Coach Wilson and his staff has done. It's really exciting what they have going down in Bloomington right now."
The trip to Indiana was Kirkland's last college visit of the summer. He plans to start seeing schools again in the fall for game day visits. Besides the two new Big Ten offers, Kirkland has also been offered by Louisville, Akron and Toledo.