Varsity Preps

Kirk Merritt: Earned Not Given

Photo courtesy of heraldguide.com

With a highlight tape that makes viewers say “Oh wow!” or “How did he pull that off?”, it’s clear why Destrehan (LA) athlete Kirk Merritt is one of the top players in the nation.

To be exact, Merritt ranks in at 149 on the ESPN 300 list and has earned a four-star rating. He posted a score of 138.84 at the SPARQ Combine in New Orleans in March and received an invite to The Opening, an elite training camp for 162 of the nation’s top players. Out of the thousands of athletes tested at the SPARQ Combines, no one has topped Merritt’s score this year.

“Having the highest score in the nation is a humbling experience,” the 2015 standout said. “Last year, I got a 100.02, so I knew I had to work on some things. I worked on my agility, the shuttle and the power ball. I just went out there this time and did what I had to do.

“Going on ESPN and seeing my name on the 300 list is just humbling. Knowing that I’m ranked as the No. 9 athlete in the nation right now is humbling. I’ve been putting in a lot of work with my personal trainer and will continue to work hard.”

That extra effort has paid off exponentially for Merritt, making him a highly sought-after recruit. The SEC loves him, as he has racked up offers from LSU, Alabama, Texas A&M and Florida to name a few. Other major programs such as Notre Dame and defending national champion Florida State have also reserved a jersey for Merritt. Even with 20-plus schools on his trail, Merritt still fondly remembers getting his very first offer early on in his junior season.

“Just putting in that hard work and getting my first offer (from Louisiana Tech) was a relief,” he said. “Just knowing that someone wanted me to play for their team was a great experience for me.”

Merritt isn’t the biggest kid, but his strength and agility makes up for it. The 5’11, 206-pounder primarily lines up at receiver, but can also tote the pigskin out of the backfield and return kicks. He runs with an excellent combination of speed and power that allows him to blow past or run over defenders. His quick feet constantly keep the chain gang moving as he turns dead plays into first downs. Merritt’s also got great hands, can run any route and is especially deadly on curls and screen passes. His skill set is already hard to match, but he has sights set on elevating his game even more.

“I can improve on everything,” Merritt said. “Speed, blocking, agility, hands and route running; everything needs improvement, so I’m going to work on everything in the offseason. My parents, coaches and my trainer always motivate me to do better and put in the extra work. They always push me to be successful and stay humble.”

So far, Merritt has taken visits to LSU and Texas A&M. While he’s enjoyed his time at each one, every school on his list is still in the running. He’s taking everything in stride and is in no rush to make a decision. The recruiting world is a crazy one, and Merritt said that he’ll look to his parents for help to make a choice when the time comes.

While recruiting Merritt is heavy on the minds of college coaches, the star athlete’s primary focus is getting ready for his senior season. Destrehan lost in the semifinals of the playoffs this past season to the eventual Louisiana Class 5A state champion Acadiana. For Merritt, there’s plenty of unfinished business to tend to in the final chapter of his high school career.

“This is my last year at Destrehan, so I want to help lead my team to victory and win a state championship,” he said. “I also have some personal accomplishments to achieve. I want to be all-state and make it to an All-American team. I just want to be a leader.”

Leadership is just one of the intangibles that Merritt possesses. He’s tough competitor that can be looked to as a role-model on his team. With his work ethic and character, Merritt has a bright future ahead in football and all other endeavors.

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