CHICAGO – San Jose SaberCats FB Johnie Kirton has been named National Guard MVP of Week 12.
Kirton (6-3, 280, Washington) rushed for three touchdowns, including the game-winning score in overtime, of the SaberCats 84-77 victory over the Chicago Rush in Week 12.
The Arena Football world was shocked and saddened by the news of Kirton’s death on May 28. Despite not being on the original ballot for voting in the Week 12 National Guard MVP race, Kirton received an overwhelming amount of nominations for the award.
In just two games with the SaberCats this season, Kirton totaled five touchdowns. Kirton began his Arena Football League career in 2010 with the Arizona Rattlers before enjoying a record-setting year with the Chicago Rush in 2011. He rejoined the Rattlers early in the 2012 season before being traded to San Jose in May.
Kirton played his collegiate career at the University of Washington as a tailback but spent time as a tight end, nose guard, and a member of the special teams unit. During the 2006 season, Kirton tied for fifth on the team in receiving with 12 catches for 93 yards. Kirton spent his senior season at nose guard where he accumulated 27 tackles and one forced fumble.Shock Head Coach Adam Shachkleford at the time of Johnie's arrival was excited about the opportunity to play the young talent at multiple positions. “We know he can play D-line, but we are also looking at him as a fullback,” said Head Coach Adam Shackleford. “He’s got a great first step. We expect him to play well and he’s excited to get back on the field.”
Johnie was an instant impact with the Shock during the 2009 season, receiving JLS Ironman honors in back-to-back weeks as the Shock went on to win the 2009 af2 championship.
An email address has been created allowing family, friends and fans to share their photos and memories of Johnie Kirton, which will be made into a book for his two-year-old daughter, Jayde. The email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
The SaberCats (8-3) will take the field with heavy hearts Saturday night against the Milwaukee Mustangs (3-7). Players will honor the memory of Kirton by wearing stickers on their helmets with his number 37. The game can be seen on Ustream’s “AFL Live” Viewer. Kickoff is set for 8:00 p.m. ET.