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Meet Indiana DE Jammie Kirlew

Jammie Kirlew never witnessed a snowflake before he visited Indiana. He was a high school prospect from Orlando considering Boston College, Navy, Army, Central Florida and South Florida when he arrived in Bloomington, Ind., to take an inside look at the Hoosiers program.

Kirlew said he was blown away by Indiana’s campus, immediately connected with the coaching staff and even thought it would be fun to shuffle through the snow during the winter.

“When I got here, I was making snowballs,” Kirlew said in a telephone interview earlier this week. “After a couple days, I was tired of the snowing.”

Kirlew has since become comfortable with the snow, but opposing offensive tackles have never been comfortable with Kirlew. After redshirting in 2005, Kirlew was named to the all-Big Ten freshman team in 2006 and started the final seven games. He has started every game since and emerged as one of the top defensive ends in the nation.

After registering 10.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for a loss last season, he was named to the preseason watch list for the Ted Hendricks Award, given to the nation's top defensive end. Kirlew joined fellow Hoosiers senior Greg Middleton as the only teammates on the list.

Kirlew said he never seriously considered entering his name into the NFL draft because of an unfinished business at Indiana: earning a degree and reaching a bowl game after missing the postseason in 2008.

“One of my goals was to leave IU in a better position,” Kirlew said. “It be great to go out with the seniors.”

Kirlew is part of a class that endured the June 2007 death of Coach Terry Hoeppner, who had been battling a brain tumor. Kirlew spent six weeks studying abroad in Florence, Italy, and had just arrived home when he heard the news. Although the team was aware of Hoeppner’s conditon – he was on medical leave at the time – there was optimism that Hopenner would return to the sideline.

Hoeppner’s wife is still a part of the program, Kirlew said, and Saturday’s game against Virginia is an opportunity for the Hoosiers to take another step in building Hoeppner’s vision for the Hoosiers.

“Some of the older guys talk about those times, ‘Remember Coach Hep,’ ” Kirlew said. “We know the vision for IU, how he wanted Indiana to get back to a bowl game.”

By Zach Berman  |  October 9, 2009; 11:45 AM ET
 
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