Posted: 5:16 pm Saturday, December 6th, 2008

Olympic Heights’ Kirkland to NIU 

By Jason Lieser

Antione Kirkland, a star running back for Olympic Heights, made a verbal commitment to play for Northern Illinois University during his visit this weekend.

“They’ve been on me since the spring,” Kirkland said from Dekalb, Ill. “The biggest thing was the coaches and how they’re trying to build the program.”

Kirkland rushed for 1,095 yards (10th in the area) and 14 touchdowns (tied for eighth) this season, despite battling nagging injuries. He is 5-11, 192 pounds and runs the 40-yard dash in 4.4 seconds.

He was heavily recruited by Colorado State and had offers from Illinois State and Eastern Kentucky. Kirkland and Olympic Heights coach Mitch Henghold expect more offers to roll in over the next few months, but Kirkland said he is “solid about this decision.”

“A lot of schools were interested in him, but Northern Illinois has been there since the spring and really feels comfortable with them,” Henghold said.

Kirkland impressed a lot of people by opting not to take college visits during the season, a sign of his commitment to Olympic Heights’ team. The Eagles were 4-6 this year.