Christian Kirk exploded on the scene last season as a true freshman and led Texas A&M in all major receiving categories. Overall, Kirk tallied 80 catches for 1,009 yards and seven touchdowns.
Not a bad debut.
In addition to Kirk’s dominance as a receiver, he was a standout punt returner, too. Kirk averaged over 24 yards per punt return and took two to the house. He was a first-team All-SEC performer as a returner, and second-team All-SEC at receiver. He was also a unanimous choice for SEC Newcomer of the Year.
So what will Kirk do for an encore?
The Aggies have a new offensive coordinator in 2016. Noel Mazzone comes to College Station after spending the last four years at UCLA. Mazzone is an accomplished offensive coach as this is his eighth stop as an offensive coordinator at this level, and has also coached in the NFL.
Mazzone knows what he has in Kirk. After all, he recruited Kirk from the time he was a freshman in Scottsdale, Ari., according to Brent Zwerneman of the Houston Chronicle.
"I thought I was going to get that little sucker," Mazzone said, "until he came here."
Mazzone’s offense is a little more balanced than what A&M fans are used to seeing under head coach Kevin Sumlin in recent seasons. Mazzone coached the Pac-12’s top rusher in three of his four seasons in Los Angeles. That won’t affect Kirk, though.
Mazzone still runs the spread and Kirk is the best of a terrific group of wide receivers. In addition to his vast talent and athleticism, Kirk is one of the most versatile offensive weapons in college football, too. He can split wide at receiver, line up in the slot or come out of the backfield. He gives Mazzone options.
Texas A&M WRs Speedy Noil, Christian Kirk, Josh Reynolds and Ricky Seals-Jones combined for 197 rec for 2702 yds with 18 TDs in 2015— Joseph Lisi (@GOFORTHE2) August 17, 2016
New quarterback Trevor Knight is experienced. However, he’s new to Texas A&M. He comes from Oklahoma, where he started 15 career games. He’ll be learning a new offense with new teammates. Fortunately for him, he has Kirk at his disposal.
The new offense will feature plenty of short, safe throws for Knight, creating an opportunity for a player like Kirk to thrive in space. While he’ll have to share the ball with Josh Reynolds, Speedy Noil and Ricky Seals-Jones, Kirk could build on his gaudy stats as a freshman in 2015.