A familiar former Michigan State football OL target enters transfer portal

Michigan State coach Jonathan Smith talks the media on the first national signing day for college
Michigan State coach Jonathan Smith talks the media on the first national signing day for college / Nick King/Lansing State Journal / USA

You might have to jog your memories a little bit for this question, but does the name Payton Kirkland ring a bell? For those of you that follow Michigan State football recruiting closely, you may remember his wild recruitment.

Kirkland is an offensive lineman for Texas and is from the 2023 recruiting class. Being apart of the 2023 class, that means the main part of his recruitment took place about two years ago during the summer of 2022. During that time, Kirkland was one of the top prospects that Michigan State was recruiting. He was a four-star prospect from Florida and according to 247Sports was the No. 18 interior offensive lineman in the country. Spartan fans had a reason to be excited about him as any team would be lucky to have a player like that on their roster.

Michigan State fans had even more reason to be excited because the Spartans received five crystal ball predictions to land Kirkland just six days before his commitment date. However, as we all know recruiting is extremely fluid, and six days later Kirkland committed to Texas, a team that wasn't in his top schools list and he hadn't even visited yet.

Fast forward two years and after one season at Texas, and Kirkland has announced that he is entering the transfer portal.

Should Michigan State pursue again?

The easy answer is yes, Michigan State should be extremely interested in Kirkland. He didn't play this past season at Texas, but that isn't uncommon for a true freshman offensive lineman, so that isn't a cause for concern. But looking back at his recruiting rankings in high school and the teams that were going after him, it's clear that he has the potential to become a great player.

Some fans may still have a bad taste in their mouth with how his recruitment went down, and trust me, I do, too. But that was two years ago and under a completely different staff. If he still has interest in coming to Michigan State I think we should be able to put any ill will aside and welcome him with open arms.

I would caution Jonathan Smith if he does go after Kirkland. What he did in his high school recruitment was considered slimy to a lot of people. I get that every kid needs to make the best decision for themseleves, and if that means a school other than Michigan State than I will never be upset. But it was the way he committed to Texas that rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, even people outside of East Lansing. There were even rumors that Mel Tucker and his coaching staff were extremely upset at the time.

So all in all, it's obvious Kirkland would be a huge addition to the team. But if Smith chooses to not go after him because of his history, I wouldn't be that upset.