IOWA CITY — Mitch King and Mike Daniels had their moments.
Pat Angerer had a way with words, as did Adrian Clayborn.
Each delivered the fire and brimstone, bringing the passion to a pregame huddle which prepares the Iowa football team for battle.
This season, Christian Kirksey sheds his normally quiet personality for a few seconds each week during the final pregame huddle in the end zone designed to send the Hawkeyes onto the field ready for the next challenge.
“We have a lot of guys on this team who could do it, a lot of guys who can lead, but I just try to do what I can to get everybody ready to go,’’ Kirksey said.
The role typically belongs to a senior, and Kirksey gained that responsibility at the encouragement of teammates prior to the start of the season.
“He sets the right tone,’’ linebacker James Morris said. “When it is time to get ready to play, he’s a different player. He brings a lot of energy and passion to the field and he does a great job of communicating that to everyone, putting that energy into words that leaves everyone ready to play.’’
Morris was among the Hawkeyes who approached Kirksey about being the leader of the huddle during the preseason.
The opportunity evolved out of a group discussion that included several possibilities.
Kirksey said he was somewhat surprised to be considered, but agreed to do it.
“It’s my senior season and this season means a lot to me, I want us to make the most of every opportunity we have,’’ Kirksey said. “We’re only guaranteed 12 games and we need to make the most out of every chance we get.’’
Defensive tackle Carl Davis said Kirksey has a way of establishing the right tenor in the final minutes before kickoff.
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“He’s a pretty reserved guy, but when game day comes around, he flips the switch and gets himself ready to play,’’ Davis said. “He’s a pretty serious guy but in the huddle, he brings it, just like Clayborn and King did. The energy he brings, he gets us all going.’’
Kirksey said he filled a similar role as a high school senior at Hazelwood East while growing up in St. Louis.
“A team needs to be ready when it takes the field. It’s something I can do, a way for me to help and I want us to be at our best whenever we take the field,’’ Kirksey said. “I don’t mind speaking up when it can help the team succeed.’’
Kirksey moved into a share of the 25th spot on Iowa’s career tackle charts last week at Ohio State and is expected to make his 33rd straight start for the Hawkeyes when Northwestern visits Kinnick Stadium at 11 a.m. on Saturday.
He joins two other senior linebackers, Morris and Anthony Hitchens, in ranking among the top 15 in the Big Ten in tackles this season. Kirksey averages seven stops per game and has helped Iowa with an interception and a fumble recovery this season.
Still, he wants more.
“I think that’s normal and I think that is something that every player should want. Don’t leave anything behind on the field, don’t have any regrets,’’ Kirksey said. “That’s the approach I want everybody to take.’’