Over the past few weeks no 2015 prospect in the east has been hotter than Matthew Burrell. The versatile line prospect recently added offers from Tennessee and Notre Dame to a list that already consisted of BCS programs like Alabama, Ohio State, Penn State, Clemson, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech. He has garnered all of that attention even when the aforementioned programs haven't yet seen him at his best position.
“I honestly personally believe that he is a better defensive tackle and sometimes defensive end,” said Burrell’s dad, Matthew Sr. “He is 6-5, 285, he has long arms, and really really good feet. He has a very good nose for the ball and he missed playing defense the last three years.”
“If he had to choose right now (which position he wants to play) he’d say either one, but I think he’d love to play defense. He is an intelligent kid, he is very smart, and he likes to be able to know the offense and to dictate to defenses (as an offensive lineman). But he loves the dirty nasty part of breaking through the line breaking up plays and getting sacks (as a defensive lineman). He misses that. Running down running backs… he misses that part. That’s his passion.”
If Burrell Jr. does turn out to be a better defensive lineman than left tackle, choosing which side of the ball to play him on is a problem every coach courting him would probably kill to have. However, in the final analysis position won’t be an overriding factor. There are some off-field considerations that will carry much more weight.
“He is really going to look at the school very very hard academically,” Mr. Burrell stated. “He talks a lot about being a math major. He wants to try to graduate in three years and have his degree. If he stays four years he wants to go start getting into his masters. (The program he chooses) is really going to be the school that makes him feel at home… that can enhance him as a man and enhance him physically. Of course football plays an important part, but it really has to be a place that he really really enjoys and where he has connection to not just the football program. He wants to meet the professors and people from all areas or the college. “
The process of finding that perfect fit is still in its infancy. To date the talented youngster has only really seen the program lives closest to, Virginia. He plans for that trip-log to change a great deal in the next year.
“Every school that sends him letters he very interested in,” Mr. Burrell insisted. “We’re not going up and down the entire east coast going to all of these colleges. I don’t want to burn him out. I want him to be able to enjoy being 16. Enjoy playing. I want him to have a life outside of football. We thought about going south this year to visit Clemson, Florida State, and a couple of other schools, but he was running and ended up falling on some pavement and had to heal up for a little while. Next summer we’re probably going to make a whole lot of our visits and we’re going to go to some games during the fall."
One of the schools they hope to make it out to is Michigan. The Wolverines’ Virginia recruiter Roy Manning chatted with the Burrells recently and made clear the Maize & Blue’s strong interest.
“We talked for a very long time,” Mr. Burrell recalled. “Coach (was) saying that Matt is a top recruit with everything they’re looking for but they’re only going to have one scholarship for the offensive line, and when the coaches get back from time off (next week), we’ll speak again. They want us up to see the place and so on, but no offer, which is fine.”
If the elder Burrell is reading the tea-leaves correctly, that could change in the very near future.
“I think Michigan will offer soon,” Mr. Burrell recently told Scout.com. “Like Notre Dame, they’re another school that we’re going to take an unofficial visit to along with some others. Of the schools that haven’t offered, I would say Michigan and Oklahoma are recruiting him the hardest.”