Washington received huge news for the 2022 season as Jaxson Kirkland was granted a waiver to be eligible this upcoming fall. The senior left tackle will be returning for his 6th season of college football coming off of consecutive 1st team all-Pac-12 honors.
This will always be home. pic.twitter.com/bzVolwERUw— Jaxson Kirkland (@jaxson_kirkland) May 5, 2022
Kirkland originally declared for the NFL Draft following the 2021 season but found out just after the deadline to withdraw that he would require surgery and would be unable to workout for the entire pre-draft process. Nonetheless Kirkland withdrew and decided it would make more sense to try to come back for another year of college and show that he was healthy than risk not working out while coming off a down season for the entire offense. That required Kirkland to obtain a waive from the NCAA which apparently has now happened.
Jaxson is the son of former starting Husky OL Dean and it is clear that he didn’t want the bad taste of last season to be his final college experience without guarantees of an immediate NFL pay day waiting. At points throughout his career Kirkland was viewed as a potential 1st round pick but that had slid to more like a 4th rounder by January and he could’ve dropped even further recovering from his leg injury.
Kirkland started for Washington at right guard as a redshirt freshman and has steadily improved while serving as a versatile member of the line. Kirkland’s PFF grade has risen every season he’s played from 64.6 to 72.9 to 74.6 to 74.9. Prior to the 2020 season he moved to left tackle and started all 4 games in the COVID-shortened season plus 10 games this past year. He missed 2 games due to injury and came back despite not being fully healthy. That injury later required surgery leading to the current situation.
During the spring with Kirkland absent, Troy Fautanu served as the 1st team left tackle. With Kirkland’s return it seems likely he shifts elsewhere although based on comments from the coaching staff he’s more likely to start somewhere else than move to the 2nd team O-line. No matter what, the return of Kirkland provides much needed depth to a line that moved starter MJ Ale to defense and lost Luke Wattenberg to the draft. It will be extremely interesting to see how the line shakes out in the fall with RG Henry Bainivalu (hopefully) healthy and Kirkland returning.
Welcome back Jaxson and we’re thrilled to see you in a Husky uniform for another year!