Last year, Maryland’s Indiana-area recruiter, Chad Wilt, trekked through Carmel (Carmel, Ind.) to check out receiver Isaac James, who UMD never offered and who eventually signed with the Hoosiers. But during Wilt’s forays through the high school, he identified an underclassman linebacker whom he thought the Terps might just want to pursue.
Class of 2016 outside backer Noah Burks was a 6-foot-3, 220-pounder that hadn’t drawn major college looks yet, but would undoubtedly draw his share in time. And 10 months after Wilt first caught wind of him, Maryland became one of the first major programs to show serious interest, with head coach Randy Edsall extending a firm scholarship offer March 6, 2015.
“It was an honor to get an offer from Maryland,” said Burks, who also holds verbals from Illinois, Indiana, Western Michigan, Miami of Ohio, Buffalo and Ball State. “Coach Edsall actually spoke to me [March 6] and we had a general conversation about my skill-set, what he liked about me, why Maryland would be a great fit – things like that. He was telling me how he thought I would develop into a really good MIKE linebacker, which I found interesting, because I’ve only played outside linebacker in high school. But it was a good conversation, and Maryland is a school I’m definitely going to be looking at.”
The aforementioned conversation was the first Burks had had with UMD’s headman. He’s spoken to Wilt much more frequently, however, although it’s typically via Twitter.
“Coach Wilt is just different than a lot of other coaches you talk to. Just the way he is, his energy and enthusiasm – it’s different,” Burks said. “I haven’t really had a chance to meet him yet, because the times he came out here [to Carmel] I couldn’t get out of class to say hi, but from talking to him on-line, it’s been really good.
“He asks me about my family, things I like to do, and makes it very personal. He’s told me how his wife is from out here, how he was out here [in Indiana] for awhile, and how he’s familiar with the football out here. [Wilt] said he’s coming out to Carmel again in the spring and he really wants to meet me when I visit Maryland.”
Which Burks plans to do in late March. He said he’s trying to make it out to College Park, Md., for the first time in-between Maryland’s spring break (March 14-21) and his own (early April), which means he’ll likely be on campus in late March.
“I’m extremely, extremely excited to visit Maryland,” Burks said. “I would go out there on my spring break, but I’m going to be away then, so I want to get out there the week before. It will be my first time on the East Coast, and I’m really excited about it.
“Just from what I know about the area, being close to Washington, D.C., and all my favorite sports teams growing up are out there, it sounds really cool. I was looking up Maryland’s campus on-line too, and it looks really nice.”
Evidently Burks wouldn’t mind playing his college ball a plane flight away from home, either. In fact, he said location isn’t a factor whatsoever.
“Not at all,” Burks said. “I mean, I’m sure my parents would like me to stay closer to home, but it’s my decision and I’m going wherever I want. Being close by or going farther away, it honestly isn’t going to play into my decision.”
Burks went on to say that Maryland’s Big Ten affiliation plays in its favor, as well as the state of the program in general.
“You know, I watched Maryland a couple times last year, and I think it’s a talented team and a team that can be successful in the Big Ten,” Burks said. “They went to a bowl game last year and beat some really good teams. From what I can tell, it’s a really good brand of football there.”
While Maryland has made an early impression, Burks said he is taking a close look at hometown Indiana and Illinois as well. Both nearby programs have been after him for longer than UMD, and Burks has visited both on more than one occasion.
“Indiana and Illinois are both definitely up there,” Burks said. “I have a great relationship with the Indiana staff and they’re the school that saw me first. They noticed me before anyone else. And Illinois, I really liked my visit there, and they have a great staff too. Illinois is a great opportunity for me too, just like Indiana and now Maryland.”
Burks is bound to secure other significant offers as he moves along in the recruiting process. He said Tennessee has been in touch, while he’s hoping Michigan antes up since he grew up a Wolverines fan.
Purdue, which Burks visited March 5, is highly interested as well, although the Carmel backer said the Boilermakers might not offer “because it’s a numbers game.”
“Definitely the main thing I’m looking for in a school is my comfort level and player-coach relationship,” said Burks, who has no other scheduled trips after UMD. “I know academics is important, but let’s not kid ourselves here – I want to play football and have a shot at the NFL (laughs). So I want to go to a good program, have a great relationship with the coaches and obviously find a school that looks nice and there’s plenty to do around campus.”
Burks has no clear timetable for selecting his school. He said his college decision could come at any time, either this summer or after his senior season if he hasn’t found “the right fit.”
Burks is coming off a campaign where he recorded 120 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, five sacks and four forced fumbles.
Indiana LB Burks Eager To Check Out UMD
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