NEW ORLEANS — Jontre Kirklin is a state championship-winning quarterback, but over the course of the next year he has to also prepare to play a host of different positions at LSU.
The 6-foot, 166-pound LSU commit out of Lutcher High School (La.) amassed more than 3,600 yards of total offense and 57 touchdowns his junior campaign. That includes a 59-percent completion percentage, 2,407 yards through the air and 38 passing touchdowns. Kirklin also added 1,200 yards rushing and 19 more trips to the end zone.
As the dual-threat quarterback prepares to attempt to repeat as a state champion, he is also keeping a steady focus on his eventual position change to either wide receiver or defensive back, something he has already given some thought and preparation to.
“It’s hard work and determination,” Kirklin told SEC Country on Sunday at Nike’s “The Opening” regional in New Orleans.
“I’m determined to play at the next level, and it doesn’t matter what position they put me in. I’m ready to go out and ball.”
Kirklin has begun to play wide receiver on the 7-on-7 circuit, and has already enjoyed a taste of success.
There’s that, plus he has the opportunity to take advice from his top two wide receivers at Lutcher, including three-star Al’dontre Davis and Class of 2018 product Gregory Clayton, the brother of former LSU star Jarvis Landry.
“I’m a fast learned, very vigilant visual learner,” Kirklin explained. “If I can see them and work out with them, then I can do the same things they’re doing. I have some receiver and defensive back history in me, so everything should come into play.
“For 7-on-7 workouts, I have some skills covering and also working out with Al’dontre. I try press coverage, off-coverage. I know I’m going against the best receiver, so I do what I have to so I can stick with guys.”
Kirklin spent much of “The Opening” regional working out as a wide receiver, and performing well above the task.
The converted quarterback flashed impressive speed and some unique athleticism getting after the ball in the air, to which he’s credited his offseason workout routine.
“It’s mostly about making someone miss,” said Kirklin. “If you make them miss, then they follow you. You know the route; they got to figure it out. Make them miss you, then you dominate off the ball.”
Between working out and practicing with Davis, Kirklin admitted that he has taken on a bit of recruiting role with his highly sought-after receiver.
Kirklin picked up his offer from the in-state Tigers in February around the same time as Davis, but Davis has shown interest in LSU, as well as Auburn, Ole Miss and Texas A&M.
There’s still time, though, Kirklin said, and he’s trying to make sure his longtime friend and teammate continue their football careers together.
“We have a whole other year of ball, and I tell him ‘Let’s meet at the top,’” Kirklin said. “We talk about it sometimes, and it’s his big decision. I don’t know when he’s going to commit, but yeah, I somewhat (nudge him). This is a blessing, playing with him since little league. We grew up like brothers, so it would be good for us to be at the same school.”
Sam Spiegelman covers LSU football recruiting for SECCountry.com and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Follow him on Twitter for the latest on who’s on their way to play in Tigers Stadium.