Kirk Merritt continues to chase his NFL dreams – only these days, it’s a bit closer to home.
Merritt, a former Destrehan football star, has been showing his skills at New Orleans Saints minicamp this summer, playing both wide receiver and running back.
He spent last season with the Miami Dolphins after signing as an undrafted free agent.
Merritt signed with the University of Oregon as a 4-star recruit during his senior year at Destrehan High School and earned national attention by earning the championship win at The Opening athletic competition in 2014. The NFL seemed inevitable. But Merritt would spend time at Texas A&M, East Mississippi Community College and, ultimately, Arkansas State before his college career was through.
Merritt caught 70 passes for 806 yards and 12 touchdowns during his senior year at Arkansas State, following a junior season at East Mississippi that saw him rack up 83 receptions for 1,005 yards and seven touchdowns.
Where very few players have been able to compete with Merritt is in terms of pure athleticism—his is elite and very rare, and it’s been that way for years.
In 2014, Merritt bested more than 100 of the nation’s most highly recruited athletes to win the SPARQ national championship at The Opening, an invite-only camp held at Nike headquarters in Oregon. There, Merritt recorded a 4.43 time in the 40-yard dash that helped separate him from a field that included future NFL players Minkah Fitzpatrick (a first round pick) and Josh Sweat.
He made his collegiate debut at Oregon in 2015, playing games in a stadium not all that far from where his national spotlight had shined brightest at The Opening competition. He played in 12 games as a true freshman. He went on to transfer to Texas A&M, but never made his on-field debut for the Aggies. With a need to get his collegiate career back on track, he another jump, to East Mississippi Community College, and there, it wasn’t long before he found on-field success again.
In 2017, he led the Lions in receptions and helped East Mississippi win the National Junior College national championship for a second straight season.
Following that season, Merritt returned to the Division I ranks, joining Arkansas State for his junior year. He posted his first collegiate 1,000 yard season there, leading his team in receptions, yardage and touchdowns. In 2019, he followed that up by leading his team in all three categories and to a second winning season.