Since ending his sophomore season, Cincinnati (Ohio) St. Xavier offensive lineman Jack Kirby has been focused on the present and his future. A top student in the classroom, Kirby knew finding the right school to continue his athletic and academic future was important.
In October, Kirby, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound prospect gave his commitment to the admissions process at the University of Pennsylvania surprising many.
When asked what made the Quakers an easy decision, Kirby and his family had done their due diligence before making such a life changing decision.
“I’ve visited Penn two times so far,” said Kirby. “I attended camp in late June and a week later they offered me. I really like campus as it has that urban feel to it. However, when you’re on campus it doesn’t really feel like it even with you being in Philadelphia. When on campus, you could be on any college campus in the middle of nowhere. It’s a really weird contrast, but I really do like it.”
During his visits Kirby has enjoyed getting to know more about the program and coaches.
“I really enjoy the coaches as Coach (Jon) Dupont, the coach that recruits our area is a really cool guy,” he said. “I really connected with him as soon as we met, and he gave us a long campus tour. In the end, they felt like family to me and I was able to connect with them. It just felt right.”
Kirby has also connected with future position coach Joe Johnson during his visits.
“Coach Johnson I’ve spoken with more on my second visit,” he continued. “He said he really liked the film I had from this year and he was excited when I called and committed. It’s funny, Coach Johnson is not a big guy like most offensive line coaches I’ve seen, and the other coaches like to tease him about that. However, I guess he was like 300-pounds when he played in high school and college. So, I found that funny.”
As for making a return visit to campus, Kirby is hopeful to get back sooner than later.
“We thought about visiting for the Harvard game,” he said. “However, our season could still be going so we’ll have to see how that shakes out as I rather be playing in the playoffs.”
With his father making the visit to campus during the summer, Kirby knew before giving his pledge his mother had to also make a visit and see what he’s seen. How did everything play out?
“My dad was sold the first time we visited campus,” Kirby said with a laugh. “He loved everything, and the school speaks for itself as it’s one of the best in the country. “But my dad gets all hyped up and excited about things. That’s great and all, but to be honest, I trust my mom’s opinion as she tries to give me the full picture in terms of life outside of football. She made sure I understood that I was going to be away from home. So, I really respect her opinion in that regard.
“My dad is a fast thinker and he can be convinced easily as where my mom doesn’t really like change and I respect her for that. So, she had to give me the ok before I committed because I respect her opinion more than my dads as she really looked at the whole picture.
“Trust me, she’s not thrilled about me moving away, but once she saw campus and how nice the coaches were and how much they seemed like family, she was op sending her son up there for four years.
“She saw there was stuff there I couldn’t get if I stayed close to home to attend school. So, she respects that, she doesn’t love it, but she’ll get through it.”
As for the academic side of things, Penn made an offer Kirby could not say no to.
“When I visited, I learned a lot about the Wharton Business school,” he explained. Wharton is the oldest collegiate school of business in the world and last year it was ranked as the best business school in the country. It’s not easy to get accepted as you’ve got to have almost a perfect ACT/SAT. It’s that hard. So that is my goal. On my visit I met with their academic support team and they’ve got a lot of things in place to watch over you to make sure you do well in school.
“I know when I get done at Penn the chances of going to the NFL are slim and none. So, I’ve always asked how I could better myself from this game and it’s through my education and that was why it was easy to commit so early.
“Penn will prepare me to do well in society. While I’m not sure yet what I want to do, I know the way they described everything that by the time I leave there, I’ll be able to start my own business or work for some of the best companies in the country.”
Having earned a starting role as a sophomore for one of the top programs in the region was not easy. However, Kirby knew he had to do more if he really wanted to take his game to another level. What helped him become a better player this year?
“I can’t talk about how I’ve improved on the field without talking about Patrick Coyne of Black Sheep Performance,” Kirby stressed. “The work Pat did with me during the offseason was phenomenal. He got my feet moving and got me more fit and looking like an athlete. I also just felt better in general and the training helped my reaction time as I feel more physical and stronger. So, I’m really happy with the way I’m playing this year and feel a lot more confident as compared to my sophomore year.”
Despite a trying season that saw the Bombers finish with a 5-5 record. Their strength of schedule allowed them to earn a spot in the Division One, Region Four, OHSAA playoffs where they’ll take on Ohio’s number one team in the final AP Poll, Cincinnati Colerain.
How have things gone this week?
“We’re getting ready,” he said. “We’ve had a good week of practice and everyone is pumped up for the game.
First Star Football Report will be on hand when the Colerain Cardinals host the St. Xavier Bombers on Friday night.