Texas football adds finishing touch to 2023 OL class in Payton Kirkland

Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports
Texas Football Mandatory Credit: Scott Wachter-USA TODAY Sports /

The next step in the evolution of the 2023 Texas football recruiting class arrived on the evening of July 23 with the commitment of the touted and sizable 6-foot-6 and 345-pound four-star Dr. Phillips (FL) offensive tackle Payton Kirkland. Texas and offensive line coach/offensive coordinator Kyle Flood got what looks to be the final piece to the puzzle for this position group in the 2023 class this weekend in the Florida native Kirkland.

Flood and the Longhorns get the 2023 class loaded up with big-bodied offensive linemen, highlighted by big humans such as Kirkland and the 6-foot-7 and 350-pound offensive tackle Connor Stroh. Kirkland gives Flood and the Longhorns the fifth offensive line commit in the 2023 class.

This also now makes it two blue-chip offensive linemen in the 2023 class in Kirkland and the highly touted four-star Harker Heights (TX) offensive tackle Jaydon Chatman.

Moreover, Texas landed the commitment of Kirkland via an announcement from his hometown that was broadcasted on 247Sports/CBS Sports on the evening of July 23. Kirkland chose Texas over other top schools such as the Michigan State Spartans, Oklahoma Sooners, and Miami Hurricanes.

Texas football adds 4-Star OT with rare physical tools in Payton Kirkland

What makes the commitment of Kirkland so important for the Longhorns in the 2023 class is the fashion in which Flood and this staff were able to get this done, and how that fits into the bigger picture of OL recruiting on the Forty Acres. Texas was able to snatch this commitment away from the likes of Oklahoma and Michigan State after Kirkland never even visited Texas.

Obviously, Texas holding a commitment from the elite five-star Isidore Newman quarterback Arch Manning helped seal the deal with Kirkland this week. But the fact of the matter is that Flood and the Longhorns are getting the big humans they want along the offensive line to get this group ready to compete in the trenches in the SEC in the near future.

Texas fans really don’t have to worry about OL recruiting in the last two cycles. And that is a new development that wasn’t prevalent for the Longhorns in the last decade or so. Offensive line recruiting was a constant struggle it seemed for the Tom Herman and Charlie Strong coaching regimes.

However, what Kirkland brings to the table for the Longhorns is a pretty overwhelming offensive tackle that has insane strength and a frame that makes him already look the part to compete in the Power Five. Kirkland is a well-rounded blocker in the run and the passing game that can drive through multiple levels of the defense on blocking assignments.

Kirkland is able to hold his ground very well, and his above-average length and high-level strength make getting past him a real tall task for opposing linemen. That is especially the case when Kirkland is able to put his power on display blocking for the runner.

That above-average length and athleticism also translate well for Kirkland in pass-blocking assignments. He’s got better than expected footspeed and an excellent punch that allows him to be very effective more often than not in pass blocking.

The most apparent area of improvement for Kirkland as a blocker comes when he faces some of the quicker and more athletic edge rushers in the passing game. Kirkland could still use some work on transferring some of that upper-body strength to his core and lower body. He could also make some necessary strides in terms of working on his agility in the next year or so so he can keep up with some of the more effective edge rushers and/or defensive ends in the Power Five.


Yet, it’s clear that Texas is getting a potential NFL-caliber offensive lineman that brings some rare physical tools to the table in Kirkland. If he can improve certain areas of his pass-blocking proficiency and continue to develop his frame to round out his core and lower-body strength, Kirkland is really going to get the attention of NFL scouts a few years down the line.

You just don’t find a 6-foot-6 offensive lineman with the versatility, power, and underrated quickness in the trenches to play really at all four spots along the line like Kirkland can too often.

Flood and the Longhorns should have a starter by year two or three for Kirkland with the program. He’s just too gifted not to at least challenge for starting reps along the offensive line by his sophomore campaign at Texas. And he essentially fits the exact physical profile of what Flood and this staff are looking for among big humans in the trenches.

Granted, he will run into some tough competition since Texas is bringing aboard so many talented offensive linemen in the last two recruiting classes.

I still firmly believe that Kirkland has the physical tools and core skill set necessary to be an impact lineman for Texas as soon as 2024 or 2025. He is almost the definition of what Texas needs in terms of an SEC-sized offensive tackle.

3 July visitors that Arch Manning can help Texas land. dark. Next

Texas is now up to 20 commits in the 2023 class after landing Kirkland on July 23. According to the 247Sports Team Composite Rankings, the 2023 Texas recruiting class now ranks at No. 4 in the nation.