Santa Clarita Christian School quarterback Blake Kirshner is used to the spotlight. He was a four-year varsity player and a two-year starter, helping lead the Cardinals to an 18-4 record in his time as a starter.
Now, he’ll have an even brighter spotlight shining on him, as Kirshner announced his commitment to play football at UCLA on Monday as a preferred walk-on.
“They reached out to me back in January. They said that they really liked my film. I visited in mid-January, I went out to their practice and on April 1 they shot the offer and I committed right away,” Kirshner said. “The campus is amazing, I was just blown away by their facilities and how serious they take football. You could see how serious they are about winning. You can see the benefits that come with playing at UCLA.”
In his two years as the starting signal-caller at SCCS, Kirshner threw for a total of 6,830 yards and a whopping 87 touchdowns with only 17 interceptions.
He’s built a solid foundation at the position, and now he’ll have the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds in football, including UCLA quarterbacks coach and former NFL coach Dana Bible as well as assistant quarterbacks coach and former NFL QB Thaddeus Lewis.
“It’s really just a dream a come true for me. It’s a blessing to learn under that type of experience, learn under that type of coaching,” Kirshner said. “It’s surreal to me, just to go in there and get the opportunity to learn and better my game under those type of coaches. Guys who have been around the game for a really long time. I just can’t wait to get out there.”
While playing football at the next level was a big factor in Kirshner’s decision, especially at a storied Division I program like UCLA, the academic side was another important aspect for him.
He is looking forward to improving on the football field, and he is just as excited about growing in his studies.
“They are the No. 1 most applied to school in the world. They are the No. 1 public institution in America. That was a really big deal to me, to be able to attend a school of that prestige and be able to better myself not only on the football field but in the classroom,” he said. “It’s a big blessing for me and I just can’t wait to get out there to better myself in every way I possibly can. What better school to do that at than UCLA?”
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound gunslinger is aware of the opportunity that has been given to him, and he’s not taking it for granted. Kirshner has been in the gym every day, training and getting stronger.
With the level of competition taking a big leap from high school to the Pac-12 Conference, Kirshner knows he has to work and prepare like he’s never done before, which is why he has also been working out with the College of the Canyons football team this spring.
“I’m very committed to bettering myself so I’m always working out every single day. I already am taking my workouts to the next level,” he said. “Knowing that UCLA is where I’m going to be next year and knowing that my level of competition is going to be so much higher, I’m taking it very seriously. I’m dedicated to bettering myself every day.”
While there have been a handful of former SCCS football players who have moved on to the Division I level, such as Noah Nnabuo (Delaware State University) and Jacob Moss (Morehead State University), Kirshner’s commitment to UCLA is the highest-profile yet.
He’s hoping that his opportunity is only the beginning, as the Cardinals’ football program continues to grow and gain recognition.
“I’m one of the firsts because obviously, we’re a newer program. It’s cool I get to etch my name in history and hopefully this starts a trend at SCCS,” he said. “I hope that more and more people get opportunities like this one.”