Cardinals Give Christian Kirk the Opportunity to Play in His Hometown

Christian Kirk (Photo Credit: Texas A&M)

Christian Kirk was at his parents’ home in Scottsdale with family and friends, when in the second round of the NFL Draft, the Arizona Cardinals selected the former Saguaro High School and Texas A&M standout with the 47th overall pick. “It means the world. A lot of people asked during the whole process what if you get drafted by Arizona, how would that be being able to come home, and I just always said it would be a dream come true. And just to have all of my family that lives here in the Valley, and for them to be able to come out to every game, it’s such a blessing. I can’t thank the organization enough.”

“Being a hometown kid growing up here I’ve always been a Cardinals fan, especially when they made the Super Bowl run. In high school when we got opportunities to go down to Cardinals games and go down on the field, I always just remember stepping on that field and just dreaming about maybe one day playing on that field. It’s surreal, and been a long time coming.” Kirk said.

Being born and raised here means the world to me. I’m just happy to be a Cardinal.

Kirk was a 4 year starter at Saguaro, where he won 3 state titles and was the state’s player of the year his senior season. That year Kirk rushed for 1,692 yards and 25 td’s and had 1,187 receiving yards while catching 17 touchdowns. He scored 5 different ways that year (rushing, receiving, punt return, kick return, and interception return). “He was just a man amongst boys. When you watch those games he was just on a different level. I’ve seen him make 10, 11 guys miss, busted plays that had no chance of being successful turn into 70 yard touchdowns. He was spectacular and the thing that made Christian great is that he was a team first guy, and he did whatever the team needed him to do to be successful. The kid wants to win. He’s a competitor. He’s a leader. He just did everything we asked him to do.” Saguaro head coach Jason Mohns said.

At Texas A&M the 5’11” 201 pound playmaking wide receiver and return man was named 1st team All SEC the last 2 years. In 3 seasons he caught 229 passes for 2,796 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also averaged an incredible 22 yards per punt return, including 6 td’s. “Not only is he a great player on the field, but certainly a class act off of it that fits the DNA our coaches talk about. He’s a very good receiver, dynamic player, but also has value in the return game.” Cardinals general manager Steve Keim said. Cardinals head coach Steve Wilks adds, “he’s going to bring a lot. The guy is smart. He’s going to be able to pick up the offense quickly. He dedicates himself to his craft. He’s going to bring that added value on special teams, so I’m excited about him.”

Christian Kirk (Photo Credit: Texas A&M)

With the Cardinals Kirk will be reunited with former Texas A&M teammates tight end Ricky Seals-Jones and cornerback Brandon Williams, as well as former Saguaro teammate D.J. Foster. “D.J. is also a big brother to me and having the opportunity to be teammates again is awesome. It’s comforting because it just helps that transition even more. They’ve gone through it. They can give me tips to make this transition smoother. They’re there for me. We’re all here at the end of the day to make each other better.” Kirk said.

Kirk will also be mentored by someone he grew up idolizing, Cardinals All Pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. Kirk first met Fitzgerald when he was in the 3rd grade, and playing on the same Pop Warner team as former Cardinal and Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner’s son Kade. “Kurt would come out to the games and he would bring Larry sometimes. Every time they came out, it was just crazy. All the kids would just go nuts that they were at our games. Now I get the opportunity to learn from him and play with him.” Kirk said.

And Kirk will do so wearing Warner’s old jersey number 13. “I’ve got to rock it well. I’ve got a lot to live up to” Kirk said.

He’s also had a long relationship with the Cardinals quarterback of the future Josh Rosen, whom the team selected with the 10th overall pick in the 1st round from UCLA. “We have a really good relationship. We were really close during recruiting. We were both talking about going to UCLA together early in the recruitment process, then being able to get together at camps always kind of developed that relationship. We actually took our official visits to UCLA together and spent a lot of time at Nike’s The Opening. He was always a good friend of mine and we stayed in touch throughout college. He’s an awesome player, and in my opinion, he’s the best quarterback in this draft. So being able to have him here, knowing that we are going to be able to build a relationship, and score a lot of touchdowns and catch a lot of passes from him.”

“I just can’t wait to take the field in front of all of my friends and family and the community. Being born and raised here means the world to me. I’m just happy to be a Cardinal.” Kirk said.

“He’s going to be a fan favorite. This whole community is going to love him. They’re going to love watching him play and they’re going to love him even more off of the field, with all of the things he’s going to do to give back to this community. What a great ambassador for football in Arizona, and Saguaro High School, and the Arizona Cardinals.” Mohns said.

Isaiah Oliver, #26 (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

Kirk wasn’t the only former Arizona high school standout to be selected in the NFL draft. Brophy Prep alum Isaiah Oliver, who played cornerback at Colorado, was drafted in the 2nd round (58th overall pick) by the Atlanta Falcons.

“I would say it’s just my athleticism, along with my refined technique,” Oliver said of what he brings to the table during a conference call after he was selected. “That’s something that I’ve always worked on, especially these last three years. Just the little things: The way we have our stance at the line of scrimmage, where I have my eyes, where I have my arms, just little things like that. I try to just make those as crisp and as perfect as possible to help me out on game day.”

The 6’0” 201 pound Oliver was a 1st team All Pac 12 selection last season and finished 4th in the decathlon at the Pac 12 Championships last year. He wants to play in the NFL and qualify for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Oliver’s athleticism stood out to his high school coach at Brophy Scooter Molander.

“There was a play his junior year during training camp when he was playing cornerback, where there was a ball thrown high behind him and he somehow turned and caught it one handed 10 feet in the air. It was the most remarkable interception I have seen by somebody at that age. It was so athletic, I thought oh my gosh. Between his junior and senior seasons he grew 2 inches and gained 20 pounds working hard in the weight room. His senior season he had the best one year all-around performance I’ve seen. He set the single season receiving yards record with 1,352 yards and had 15 total touchdowns. At cornerback he had 7 interceptions, and on special teams he blocked 6 kicks. An absolutely unbelievable performance. He’s a great young man, down to earth, very coachable, high football iq. I’m very excited for him, and the Falcons are getting a great player.” Molander said.

In the 3rd round, with the 86th overall pick, the Baltimore Ravens drafted tight end Mark Andrews. During Andrews senior season at Desert Mountain High School he was regarded as Arizona’s top recruit after catching 68 passes for 1,122 yards and 17 touchdowns. Collegiately at Oklahoma, the 6’5” 256 pound Andrews caught 22 td’s, and set the school’s all-time tight end receiving record with 1,765 yards. He was a 3 time 1st team All Big 12 selection, and this past season was a unanimous 1st team All American, and won the John Mackey award given to the nation’s top tight end.

“I have coached high school football for 25 years, and Mark Andrews is the best overall athlete I’ve had the pleasure to coach. Mark did not play football until his freshman year in high school. He was a soccer and basketball kid. His skills that he picked up in those sports transferred over to the football field.” Tony Tabor, Mark’s coach at Desert Mountain, said.

Andrews has had to some overcome obstacles to reach the NFL. He has type one diabetes and wears an insulin pump on his right hip except when he’s playing football. During games trainers periodically check Mark’s blood sugar levels to make sure he’s ok. “Mark was awesome with the diabetes. He reached out and spoke to some other kids and their parents from other schools about playing football with diabetes. I can’t stress enough how humble he is and just a good character kid. Combining god given talent and a great work ethic makes for a kid who gets his name called in the draft, and gets to play on Sundays. I pretty much thought that after his freshman year this opportunity would come for him and it could not happen to a better young man.” Tabor said.