Florida Football Recruiting: Former target Payton Kirkland enters the Transfer Portal

The former top 100 overall prospect out of Orland had committed to Texas in 2022
Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Recruiting for Florida Football has felt like a soap opera at times during the Billy Napier Era. Trying to accurately predict who is actually in the good graces of the Gators feels like rolling a ball around the roulette wheel and hoping it lands on something good.

And as the spring transfer portal is about to open up, trying to predict which of those players are going to stick at the spot they land can also be an adventure as Florida fans are bound to see several former targets the Gators missed out on the first time jump into the portal to find a new home.

Florida Football: Wheel Keeps On Spinning

Payton Kirkland was a top 100 overall prospect in the class of 2023 out of Orlando. The offensive lineman, who is 6'6" and 366 pounds, made an official visit to Florida in June of 2022 and had made three other unofficial visits to Gainesville in 2022.

Florida was in his publicly listed final five along with Miami, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Michigan State, but in a move that caught everyone off guard he committed to none of those schools. Instead, Kirkland opted to commit to Texas despite the fact he hadn't actually been on their campus prior to his announcement in July of 2022.

At the time he told the Orlando Sentinel:

"I pump-faked the entire country. That was my goal. I want to make my impact at the University of Texas. The class of 2023 can build something amazing."

Payton Kirkland

And the class of 2023 for Texas was solid, headlined by QB Arch Manning, and finished 3rd in the 247 Composite Rankings.

Kirkland didn't play in 2023, which isn't uncommon for freshmen offensive linemen. But following the spring camp for the Longhorns, he has opted to leave Austin and enter into the transfer portal.

It should be noted that players in the SEC who enter the transfer portal during the spring period can not transfer to another SEC school if they wish to be eligible right away. They would have to sit out a full season. Because Texas doesn't formally join the SEC until this summer, Kirkland would be exempt from this rule if he joined the SEC.

Kirkland still has four years of eligibility remaining.