Former National Football League linebacker Lorenzo Levon Kirkland was born in Lamar, South Carolina. He was a second-round draft choice of the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1992 NFL Draft, and played nine seasons with the Steelers, and one each for the Seattle Seahawks and the Philadelphia Eagles.
Kirkland is a Clemson University alumnus and was inducted into the University’s All-Centennial team in 1996. He was inducted into the University’s Hall of Fame in 2001. After retiring from the NFL, Kirkland returned to Clemson and earned his sociology degree in 2004. He also worked for Clemson coordinating minority recruitment in admissions for the University. Kirkland was inducted into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame in 2008 and is an educational speaker for the National Collegiate Scouting Association.
During his days in the NFL, Kirkland was known for his speed and agility even though he was 6-1 and weighed between 275 and 300 lbs. He became a starter inside linebacker for Pittsburgh in his second season and was recognized as one of the top players in that position in the league.
Kirkland’s performance during the 1996 season earned him his first trip to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors. He had four interceptions that season, a high number for an inside linebacker, to go along with four sacks and 114 tackles.
Kirkland also made the Pro Bowl after the 1997 season, with a career-high and teamleading 126 tackles and career-high five sacks, as the Steelers went to the AFC Championship game.
In 2001, Kirkland went to the Seattle Seahawks where he became a leader on the defense and had over 100 tackles. The next year he played his final season for the Eagles, becoming the veteran leader of a defense that ranked seventh in the league and advanced to the NFC Championship game before losing to the Buccaneers.
Kirkland worked as a linebacker coach at Woodmont High School in Greenville, South Carolina, until November 2011, when he was named the head coach for Greenville’s Shannon Forest Christian School.