Jackson’s Kirton wants to be a Husky

  • Aaron Coe<br>For the Enterprise
  • Friday, February 29, 2008 10:51am

MILL CREEK — Make room in the University of Washington backfield.

A lot of room.

Johnie Kirton, a 6-foot-3, 248-pound tailback from Jackson High School, has given a verbal commitment to play football for the Huskies. Kirton, nicknamed “Bubba,” called UW assistant coach Scott Pelluer late Monday night with his decision. Kirton, who was recruited by Pelluer and Huskies head coach Keith Gilbertson, chose Washington over Oregon.

One phrase Pelluer said Gilbertson uttered during the recruiting process, Kirton said, helped make the decision easier.

“He told me he’d stop recruiting other running backs if I committed,” said Kirton, who as a senior rushed for 2,675 yards — one yard shy of the state’s single-season rushing record — while leading Jackson to its first state-playoff appearance. “It was pretty cool.”

A day after returning from his official visit to Oregon, Kirton knew where he wanted to go. Washington was not always the front-runner for his services, but his heart told him where he believes he belongs.

“Location I never really thought of, because I always kind of wanted to get out of (the state of) Washington,” said Kirton. “All of the sudden, I just really wanted to be a Husky.”

Six months ago, no one thought of Kirton as a future Division I college running back. He carried the ball just 36 times for 165 yards as a junior fullback. During Kirton’s junior season recruiters came to watch wide receiver Craig Chambers — a 2003 Jackson graduate who red-shirted at Washington in the fall — and began recruiting Kirton as a defensive end prospect.

He quickly changed some minds when he rushed for more than 200 yards in eight straight games as a senior. He averaged 231 yards per game and erased concerns about his speed with 12 touchdown runs of 40 yards or longer among his 34 TDs. Kirton has been timed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

Aaron Coe writes for The Herald in Everett.

Talk to us