Kirven stands out among elite defensive linemen at Top Gun camp

With temperatures approaching a beastly 100 degrees Thursday in Williamsburg, Korren Kirven exploded out of a three-point stance and chopped violently at a tackling dummy.

His efforts brought praise from the Football University Top Gun camp instructors leading the drills. Then again, Kirven's abilities weren't really much of a mystery to anybody at the camp, which continues Friday and Saturday at the massive sports complex next to Warhill High School.

Kirven's considered by most recruiting analysts to be one of the nation's top 20 defensive tackle prospects. Ranked No. 5 on the Daily Press' Fab 15 state recruiting rankings for the class of 2012, Kirven joins defensive end Eli Harold from Ocean Lakes High in Virginia Beach as the top two remaining uncommitted defensive players in the state.

All of which begs the questions — why in the world is Kirven at the camp in the first place? Doesn't an elite recruit that already has nearly 25 scholarship offers have something better to do with his time than toil in the baking sun with a few hundred other youth players, most of whom aren't anywhere near his caliber?

"Most of the time, in my case, you already have the exposure you need," said Kirven, a rising senior at Brookville High in Lynchburg, who said he now measures 6-foot-4 and 286 pounds. "For me, it's the opportunity to compete against better competition. I treat it as workouts."

It doesn't hurt that the instructors at the camp include many former college and NFL players.

Plus, Kirven is working at the camp with fellow linemen like defensive ends Alex Balducci from Portland, Ore., (an Oregon commitment) and Hasaan Ridgeway from Mansfield, Texas, (a Texas commitment), and defensive tackle Aziz Shittu from Atwater, Calif., — all of whom are considered by most recruiting analysts to be among the top 50 in the nation at their respective positions for the '12 class.

Kirven has a lot in common with those guys. He's in the midst of dealing with pressure from recruiters that want an answer as soon as possible. Though he admits he's getting a little tired of the recruiting process, he's taking his time and doesn't have a timetable for a decision.

Right now, he's looking at scholarship offers from schools including Virginia, Virginia Tech, Auburn, Alabama, Stanford, Penn State, Notre Dame, Florida, Connecticut, North Carolina, N.C. State, Texas Tech, Rutgers, Utah, Tennessee, Maryland, Central Florida, Wake Forest, Vanderbilt, Colorado, Duke and Marshall.

He said he plans to narrow his list in the next couple weeks to 10-to-12 schools, four of which he knows will be U.Va., Virginia Tech, Auburn and Alabama. He visited Auburn and Alabama last week, and gave both programs rave reviews.

"Location and distance from home don't matter to me," Kirven said. "You always have to show love to the in-state schools. The in-state schools are some of the first to offer, some of the first to look for you. You have to show them the courtesy of keeping them up there on your list — at least, that's what I think."

Kirven believes he has the frame to play in college at as much as 300 pounds and without losing his speed on the defensive line. He said most programs that run a 4-3 defensive scheme want him as a defensive tackle, while some of the 3-4 schools see him at defensive end.

Not surprisingly, the Brookville contingent on Virginia Tech's roster, including defensive end Zack McCray and quarterback Logan Thomas, is putting the heat on Kirven. McCray has been especially vocal, but Kirven is a patient man.

"He can try to persuade me, but — you never know," Kirven said. "He just says, 'Hurry up and come join the family.' He's just joking around a lot."

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