Kirkland sits and waits for opportunity to coach


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Former Clemson All-American linebacker Levon Kirkland played 11 years in the NFL. (Photos: Rich Kane/Icon SMI)
Former Clemson All-American linebacker Levon Kirkland played 11 years in the NFL. (Photos: Rich Kane/Icon SMI)

CLEMSON – As Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney scours the country for another defensive coach to replace the departed Chris Rumph, a member of Clemson’s Centennial Team and Super Bowl performer sits in his office at Clemson, waiting for the phone to ring.

Former Clemson All-American linebacker Levon Kirkland, who played 11 years in the NFL [nine with the Pittsburgh Steelers], currently works in the Admissions Office [he does minority recruitment for undergrad admissions] for the university, and makes no secret of the fact that he would love to return to his first love – college football – as a coach.

Kirkland coached on the high school level last season, and it is his lack of coaching experience that has been the main culprit in his not landing a job.

However, he would seem to be a perfect fit for a team needing a linebacker coach. For instance, Clemson defensive coordinator Kevin Steele coaches the linebackers for the Tigers, and he had two defensive line coaches last season. Now that defensive ends coach Chris Rumph is gone, Kirkland could ostensibly step in to coach the linebackers, allowing Steele greater reign over the entire defense.

As of yet, however, Kirkland has yet to hear his phone ring.

“It would be a wonderful opportunity for me and for my family,” Kirkland told TigerNet Wednesday afternoon. “Anybody that has ever spent any time around Clemson knows that this is a special place with special people. That would be the opportunity of a lifetime. But I also know that if my opportunity doesn’t happen now, or here, it will somewhere. But no one has contacted me.”

The former Pro Bowler brought size and speed to the inside linebacker position, and in 1996 Kirkland was named to Clemson University's All-Centennial team and was inducted into the University's Hall of Fame in 2001. After retiring from the NFL, he returned to Clemson and earned his sociology degree in 2004.

He was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008. Kirkland also educates student-athletes across the country on the college recruiting process as an Educational Speaker for the National Collegiate Scouting Association, and as a recruiter for the university, he already understands one of the hardest parts of being a college coach.


“It’s funny, because I never wanted to be a coach,” Kirkland said. “Then I started doing camps a few years ago for people, and the Army All-Star game, and I did a lot of teaching to young linebackers coming up. I found out it was a lot of fun, and that I had a way with people. Plus, I know the game.

“I really fell in love with the game again. Once I retired from the NFL, I tried to get away from it for a while. But you always love the game. For me, I have this knowledge base, and I want to give back to the players. I have that experience, and I have been where these young players are at. And I’ve also been where they want to go.”

Current linebacker Corico Hawkins reached out to Kirkland during the season, and saw his game improve after Kirkland helped him out with some pointers.

“He asked for advice, and I didn’t think there was any harm in it,” Kirkland said. “I wasn’t trying to overstep any boundaries; I just wanted to help him out. I watched what he was doing, and I gave him some nuggets to think about. Just some pointers to try and help him out. I tried to help him out with the angles he was taking; giving him the opportunity to see what was happening and react.”

Kirkland said another pointer he can pass along to young players is that becoming a professional is more about your work ethic than talent.

“People think that the professionals are there just on natural talent,” he said. “But you can't get along on just talent or ability. Honestly, it’s more about working hard and understanding the game. There isn’t any reason I can't pass along that work ethic to other people. I want to coach. I feel like I have a lot to give, and I am looking forward to that opportunity.”


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Subject (Replies: 40) Author
spacer Kirkland sits and waits for opportunity to coach
Crump®
spacer Would be a great hire IMO!***
westville29067
spacer Re: Would be a great hire IMO!***
nkickha
spacer Re: Kirkland sits and waits for opportunity to coach
fuzzyduck
spacer Re: Kirkland sits and waits for opportunity to coach
Melclem
spacer One thing is for sure... He would be a hellacious recruiter.
TigerLight
spacer Re: Kirkland sits and waits for opportunity to coach
cams626
spacer We'd be foolish to not utilize him in some way.***
jbvarnad
spacer No to Kirk. He was D-coordinator and LB coach at Woodmont HS
twentytwofifteen
spacer The know it alls of TNET have spoken and they already
TigerD4Him
spacer Him giving up over 40ppg. is a FACT, Captain Sarcasm***
twentytwofifteen
spacer We are talking about COACHING linebackers not calling
TigerD4Him
spacer Re: We are talking about COACHING linebackers not calling
twentytwofifteen
spacer Re: We are talking about COACHING linebackers not calling
ecsguru®
spacer Re: We are talking about COACHING linebackers not calling
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer Re: We are talking about COACHING linebackers not calling
jmane1212
spacer Plus, he has nothing to gain by coaching here, except
twentytwofifteen
spacer One thing that has always bothered me about Clemson is
TigerD4Him
spacer Re: One thing that has always bothered me about Clemson is
twentytwofifteen
spacer Re: One thing that has always bothered me about Clemson is
sean79
spacer Re: No to Kirk. He was D-coordinator and LB coach at Woodmont HS
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer never heard of woodmont before, so maybe they gave up alot
tigerking79
spacer best game was an 8 point loss to a 1 win team
owensb01®
spacer Re: No to Kirk. He was D-coordinator and LB coach at Woodmont HS
tigergirl
spacer Re: No to Kirk. He was D-coordinator and LB coach at Woodmont HS
CidTiger
spacer Doesn't have to be as a coach.***
jbvarnad
spacer Dude, it was Woodmont, they just aren't that good*******
gholliday
spacer Bear fricking Bryant couldnt have coached Woodmont to a good
Boogs
spacer Re: Dabo, this is a no brainer here!!
deleted
spacer Re: Dabo, this is a no brainer here!!
allorangeallthetime52®
spacer our 3-4 defense of that era was so dominant***
tigerking79
spacer Re: Dabo, this is a no brainer here!!
Dugatiger®
spacer One thing for #### sure, he would have the same passion for
clmsntgr1®
spacer Re: Kirkland sits and waits for opportunity to coach
McClary4
spacer People on tigernet use emotion to pick coaches
CUAtTheFinishLine®
spacer Re: People on tigernet use emotion to pick coaches
TigerBosox
spacer you know what I mean***
CUAtTheFinishLine®
spacer Kirkland should know that
tigergirl
spacer Re: Kirkland sits and waits for opportunity to coach
mtntig
spacer Re: Kirkland sits and waits for opportunity to coach
hard2baTigerTX
spacer Re: Kirkland sits and waits for opportunity to coach
jjlove98
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