Coach Jerry Kill is likely to use three running backs in his offense, and Kirkwood has made significant strides to elevate himself above the other five running backs competing for playing time. Last season, Kirkwood suffered from hamstring problems but still had 63 carries for 229 yards and three TDs.
Junior college transfer James Gillum was placed on the top of the depth chart in spring camp, but Kirkwood has risen above Gillum through strong preseason practices. Sophomores David Cobb and Devon Wright, along with freshmen K.J. Maye and Rodrick Williams are all competing for carries and playing time as well.