ORLANDO, Fla. -- Denver Kirkland (Miami/Booker T. Washington) couldn't help himself.
As he stood on the sidelines watching the final seconds tick off the scoreboard in the FHSAA 4A State Final, he was overcome by it all. The Tornadoes were state champions, and the crowd at his back roared in jubilation.
"When the time was winding down and stuff like that, just seeing everyone out in the crowd, it kind of brought tears to my eyes because it took me four years to get here," he said. "It just brought a tear to my eyes and I started getting emotional.
"It was really special because it was redemption. The best team won and I am happy."
This fall, Kirkland tried his best not to get caught up in recruiting. He wanted this moment, this state championship ring, first and foremost.
Now that he has it, his attention will turn to figuring out what school he'd like to attend next fall.
"Now I am going to get into recruiting very, very hard now that the season is over with," he said. "I was committed to Booker T., you know, just worrying about our season and not really thinking about colleges. But now that the season is over, I am going to be looking at recruiting closely."
According to Kirkland, just five schools are in the mix. All are expected to get an official visit.
"Florida State, USC, Miami, South Florida and West Virginia," he listed.
His criteria for deciding between the candidates is simple. There won't be any peering over depth charts, no considerations of flashy uniforms.
No, Kirkland is focused on two things, and two things only.
"Academics and the coaches," he said. "That's all, that's it."