No surprise: Christian Kirk is prep football Player of Year

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                </div>  The selection of Christian Kirk as the 2014 Arizona Football Player of the Year, announced by azcentral sports over the weekend, was almost like an afterthought this year following […]<!-- AddThis Sharing Buttons below -->
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The selection of Christian Kirk as the 2014 Arizona Football Player of the Year, announced by azcentral sports over the weekend, was almost like an afterthought this year following the announcement less than a week ago that Texas A&M had won the lottery and would have him in the fold next season.

More significantly, Arizona State, which was on his final short list of suitors was not his final choice.

Actually, just about anything would be anti-climatic after the months of anticipation as the wide receiver from Saguaro High School culled through more than 30 scholarship offers he’s received since his freshman year.  ASU and UCLA were the first two schools to offer him a full ride, back when he was still a freshman, and both were among the final three on his list.

But Kirk, who also logged time as a tailback in helping Saguaro to back-to-back Division III state titles, says he felt more at home in Texas and has always been a fan of the Southeastern Conference and has wanted to play for an SEC program since he was little.  He will graduate Saguaro this month in order to be on campus at College Station for spring classes, which will enable him to participate in spring drills.

No doubt, Sun Devil head coach Todd Graham had big plans for the 5-star prospect who runs a sub-4.5 40-yard dash and has the dynamic athleticism to break big plays.  Graham’s leading receiver, redshirt junior Jaelen Strong, will likely be leaving early for the NFL and Kirk would be able to step into that starting role immediately.

Graham’s loss is Kevin Sumlin’s gain, as the Aggies’ head coach reeled in his top target by outlining plans to work him into his natural position at  wide receiver early and reportedly dangling his plans to play for a national championship while Kirk is there.

Perhaps you remember Kevin Sumlin.  He was the coach Arizona State thought it had wrapped up to be the school’s next head coach after Dennis Erickson, before hiring Graham.  That just adds insult to injury.

Graham did pull in a big catch from Saguaro a couple of years ago when he convinced D.J. Foster to play for the Sun Devils.  Foster was the 2011 Big Schools Player of the Year and it was his state record for 103 career touchdowns that Kirk broke this year in leading the Sabercats to a perfect 14-0 record and extending the state’s longest-active winning streak to 27 games.

As long as we’re talking Kirk statistics here… consider a prep career that concludes with 2,698 yards rushing and another 3,943 yards receiving. Out of the total 203 receptions, 52 went for touchdowns – which sets a new state record.  Just this season he piled up 3,349 all-purpose yards, for an average of 239.2 yards per game, and also carried the ball 159 times for 1,692 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns.  He added another 17 TDs with 1,187 receiving yards.

And just for the record, he was a defensive standout as well, with 49 tackles and four interceptions this season.

Kirk will be joining another top prospect that escaped the local recruiting nets last year.  Kyle Allen, a 5-star recruit from Scottsdale’s Desert Mountain High School, was the starting quarterback last season for the Aggies as a freshman.  He was the top prospect in the state coming out of high school and he and Kirk have a relationship that goes back to their days together playing youth sports.

The consequences of letting both of these big fish get away may become painfully evident when the 2015 season kicks off.  ASU is scheduled to meet Texas A&M in a Sept. 5 game.

SMALL SCHOOLS

The 2014 American Family Insurance All-USA Arizona Small Schools Player of the Year also put up some impressive stats this year – but none more impressive than his final game of his high-school career.

Heath Motes, a running back at Thatcher High School who was converted to quarterback last season, passed for 393 yards and six touchdowns in a Division V state quarterfinals loss to Arizona Lutheran.  He ran for another 98 yards and then contributed as a safety on defense by posting 15 tackles, 10 of which were solo.

And that one game wasn’t an isolated incident.  Motes, who also wrestled and plays baseball at Thatcher, ran for 404 yards on one occasion and had four games of 200 or more yards.

His senior-season numbers include 1,575 passing yards for 25 touchdowns, and 2,089 yards and 32 TDs on 214 carries.  On defense, he racked up 48 tackles and 11 interceptions as a do-everything performer.

(Photo credit: 247Sports)