North Texas Daily

Junior center Kaydon Kirby brings leadership potential to the Mean Green

Junior center Kaydon Kirby brings leadership potential to the Mean Green

November 05
03:11 2015

Reece Waddell | Senior Staff Writer

@ReeceTapout15

As the only starting offensive lineman to return in 2015, junior center Kaydon Kirby has been bringing leadership to the line of scrimmage.

Before the season began, he was one of 63 players named to the watch list for the Rimington Trophy, an award presented to the best center in college football.

Kirby has also played the role of “Mr. Reliable,” starting 33 straight games for North Texas dating back to 2013, and became the first freshman to start every game at center since Andy Brewster in 2001.

“He understands that as the veteran of the group, the calls that he’s making, especially getting us in the right protection and seeing the indicator, he isn’t the boisterous leader,” Canales said. “But he’s one of those guys that when he says something, the team listens.  They lean on him.”

Kirby bolstered his resume in 2013 when the Mean Green went 9-4 and won The Heart of Dallas Bowl.

Offensive line coach Mike Simmonds said he recognizes how valuable the bowl victory is for Kirby’s leadership and how crucial it is to have a proven player anchor the line and mesh the new pieces together this season.

“It’s a jigsaw puzzle,” Simmonds said. “It’s like a science project to me, putting together an offensive line. It’s about competing and who performs the best in practice.”

After his freshman season, Kirby was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team and was part of an offensive line that allowed only 11 sacks in the season. He credited much of his success to Simmonds, who has been at North Texas since the 2011 season.

“I think Coach Simmonds is one of the best offensive line coaches in the nation, honestly,” Kirby said. “He’s a great guy, great coach and he does a great job of producing excellent linemen.”

Like many collegiate athletes, Kirby said he has the desire to play in the NFL should the opportunity present itself.

“Absolutely, I think everyone does,” Kirby said. “But if it doesn’t happen I have a Plan B.”

North Texas junior offensive lineman Kaydon Kirby (50) protects senior quarterback Andrew McNulty (5) against the Portland State defense. Ryan Vance | Senior Staff Photographer

North Texas junior offensive lineman Kaydon Kirby (50) protects senior quarterback Andrew McNulty (5) against the Portland State defense. Ryan Vance | Senior Staff Photographer

That alternative is going into coaching — a profession Kirby said he is passionate about. He said the dream is to move up from coaching his fiancée’s sorority soccer team to become the head coach of a high school football team.

“I really just kind of stand there,” Kirby said of his current coaching gig. “She’s a former collegiate soccer player and knows what she’s doing. But for me, I definitely want to go into the coaching business.”

Some of his teammates already seem to think of him as a coach because of his demeanor on and off the field. Junior quarterback DaMarcus Smith said Kirby has bailed him out of some tough situations and has a keen eye for picking up defensive pressure.

“He’s saved my butt sometimes if I may miss a call or a protection,” Smith said. “He’s the leader of that offensive line.”

The past two weeks, sophomore running back Jeffrey Wilson has rushed for over 100 yards, a statistic Kirby said members of the offensive line take pride in.  And while he admits being a lineman isn’t the most glamorous position in the world, it’s one he loves.

“We’re kind of the unsung heroes,” Kirby said. “When we see two guys rush for over 100 yards we know we’re a big part of that and we don’t necessarily have to get the credit for it. We love it. We know what we’re signing up for.”

Featured Image: North Texas junior offensive lineman Kaydon Kirby (50) protects senior quarterback Andrew McNulty (5) against the Rice defense. Ryan Vance | Senior Staff Photographer

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