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Nevada QB Austin Kirksey to leave team, update on Malik Henry's status

Austin Kirksey
Austin Kirksey is no longer a part of the Nevada football program. (Nevada athletics)

Austin Kirksey, the Nevada Wolf Pack's true freshman quarterback, is no longer a member of the program and plans on leaving the school at the semester break.

Kirksey told Nevada Sports Net this week he is leaving Nevada because of a personal family issue. Coach Jay Norvell said the Wolf Pack has given Kirksey their blessing to move back home.

"He's going to move back to Georgia to be close to his family," Norvell said. "Really sad to see him go. What a great kid. He's like a straight-A student, an awesome young man and very close to his family. A great family. We're sad to see him go, but I certainly understand him wanting to be closer to his family."

Kirksey will finish the semester at Nevada academically but he hasn't been practicing with the team. He is planning on walking on at the University of Georgia, which is 80 miles east of his hometown of Marietta, Ga. Kirksey was the first prospect to commit in Nevada's 2019 class, doing so on June 14 before signing with the team in December. He was rated as a three-star recruit by 247Sports.com after throwing for nearly 5,000 yards and 54 touchdowns in his high school career.

Norvell also said Malik Henry's status with the team is unchanged from when he was taken off the practice field last month so he could focus on academics. Henry started two games for Nevada, a win over San Jose State and a loss to Utah State, before being removed from playing while remaining in good standing with the team.

"We'll get a final decision on Malik when we get more information on his grades," Norvell said. "He hasn't improved enough to get back out here. A lot of that is in his court. If he can get himself squared away and really handle his responsibility he'll be able to come back out."

Kirksey's departure leaves Nevada with five quarterbacks on this year's roster, but the Wolf Pack will have just three scholarship quarterbacks on next year's team, including sophomore-to-be Carson Strong; junior-to-be Kaymen Cureton, who began the season as a safety; and Kaiden Bennett, who walked on with the Wolf Pack after transferring out of Boise State after training camp. Bennett will be put on scholarship next season when he'll be a redshirt freshman, Norvell said. Nevada also has walk-on quarterback Hamish McClure, who will be a sophomore next season.

The Wolf Pack could add a quarterback in its 2020 recruiting class. Nevada's class of 2020 quarterback commit, Chandler Galban, de-committed from the school last month.

"We're recruiting a couple of players right now, a couple of guys we really like, but we also feel like we're good," Norvell said. "If we didn't get somebody in this cycle, we'd continue to look in the offseason and look for next year. Getting Kaiden here really helps. He's working really hard and doing a good job on scout team. We'll just continue to work those kids. Carson's a young guy, so we're always looking in recruiting to improve that position."

Norvell didn't sound too concerned about potentially having only three scholarship quarterbacks next season. His preferred number at the position is four.

"I really don't like too many," Norvell said. "I'd like to have four. When you watch us practice early in practice, we have them all throwing at the same time. I like to have four and a good walk-on. If you have too many you have guys standing around and they don't get enough work. We'd like to take one every year in recruiting and we spend a lot of time trying to look at their background to make sure they have the qualities that we want."

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