Junior Day Focus--Justin Burke

Numbers don't lie, and last year Lexington, Ky. (Catholic) product, Justin Burke, threw for 34 touchdowns and only four interceptions. His accuracy, decision making ability, intelligence, and poise are just a few of the reasons why Notre Dame has targeted Burke as one of their top prospects in the 2006 recruiting season. Burke recently attended Notre Dame's junior day and we spoke with Burke to get his reaction to his visit to South Bend.

"It went really well," said Justin Burke of his visit to South Bend. "It was a big junior day, with somewhere around 85 players, and that was really different, but that was OK. The whole day was really organized. I was really impressed with coach Weis and his staff. I had the opportunity to talk to the quarterback coach at the beginning of the session, and then I spoke to coach Weis for about ten minutes at the luncheon."

Like many people that meet Coach Weis, or have the opportunity to hear him speak, Burke was impressed Weis's frankness. Additionally, the two also discussed Burke's strengths and weaknesses.

"He is very frank, and you could tell he was from Jersey—I liked that," said Burke of Weis. "He was very different than other coaches in that regard.

"He asked me if I wanted to hear about my strengths or my weaknesses. I told him the weaknesses and then he said he would change my arm strength, and work on getting stronger. Then he told me that out of all the quarterbacks he's seen on film I was the most accurate."

We asked Burke what he liked best about his unofficial visit to Notre Dame.

"I think it was probably just being able to talk to the coaches and the conversation I had with coach Cutcliffe and coach Weis," he said.

"Coach Cutcliffe is from around our area, down south, which was really nice. We talked about my film and how he liked it. Then we talked about my strengths, and then he talked about his experiences and his history with the Mannings."

The Mannings are recognized by many as being very cerebral quarterbacks. Burke feels his intelligence, like the Mannings, is his best attribute.

"My cerebral approach and my footwork are my strengths," he said. "I can run if I need to. People say I am more of a pocket passer, but once again, I can run when I have to. I have no problem doing that. But I would say my decision making, footwork, and accuracy are my strengths."

So far five schools have recognized Burke's strengths and have offered him a football scholarship. But, after visiting other campuses, attending some summer camps, and attending the Elite Eleven Camp, other may soon follow suit.

"I have five offers right now. Northwestern, Michigan State, Louisville, Kentucky, and Purdue have all offered," said Burke.

"I plan on going to Purdue's camp, Michigan's, the Nike Combine, and the Elite Eleven camp this summer. For the last two years I've been to Purdue's camp, so I have a pretty good relationship with their coaches. I'm also receiving a lot interest from Stanford, Miami, Michigan, Georgia, Clemson, and Virginia.

"I went out in California last year for a camp and might take a trip out west again. I want to try to get my name out more on west coast."

With a 4.0 and a 1300 on the SAT, Burke is fully qualified. Academics will be a major factor when he makes his college decision.

"Academics are a top priority," said Burke. "I'm looking for a place that offers both good academics and strong football program. I think ND offers that, to say the least.

"Purdue, Notre Dame and Stanford would all be a great fit because of the academics. I have to research the academics at each school more. I am good in Psychology, so I'm thinking about majoring in that. But I might go into engineering or even premed, maybe.

"I think the second category that will impact my decision is my overall feel for the college. This feel goes with the campus, the players, the staff, and the people around the campus, and the facilities."

Burke, like many quarterbacks in previous recruiting years, wants to make a decision before he enters his senior season.

"I'm going to try to get it done after the camps," said Burke when asked when he might make a decision. "I hope to get it done then, but if I don't get the offers I want, then I'll wait. But if something comes up, I'll make a decision. I don't think I'll be declaring on signing day, to put it that way.

"Right now it's really just a waiting period until I feel comfortable with a school"

Comments: Burke is extremely articulate, well-mannered, and exudes confidence in everything he says. His visit to Notre Dame was his third time on campus. He attended the Florida State game roughly three years ago and the Michigan game last year. Despite Notre Dame's lopsided loss to Florida State, he had a rewarding experience and really seemed to appreciate the fans for continually supporting their team. He also thoroughly enjoyed the Michigan game. Look for Notre Dame to keep a close eye on this talented prospect.

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