BSB: How would you describe his game?
Harris: “Matthew’s an old-school lineman in the sense that once he gets going on a down block, there’s not a lot that a defensive lineman can do about it. He’s a big guy who plays low with vicious hands, but he’s also very football smart. He understands what he’s looking at, whether it’s an odd front or an even front and he can make calls. One thing people might not know about Matt is that he can play all five spots on the offensive line. He can play on an island and play tackle or you can put him at guard and tell him to trap.”
BSB: What helped him develop that versatility?
Harris: “As he started to mature as a player we started to put more on his plate. He started off as a tackle and got bigger and faster so we moved him inside. He moved inside and did a very good job at it. Once he could handle guard and tackle we told him, ‘You’re on the way to college and I’m sure you want to make the bus as a freshman – learn how to snap the football.’ He’s just such a smart kid. When you teach him something new, it doesn’t take him very long to grasp it.”
BSB: When did he demonstrate his ability to learn quickly?
Harris: “He’s always been that kind of kid. He’s always been a kid who can learn fast. As a matter of fact, I remember seeing him in a camp as an eighth grader and he was holding his own against rising seniors. I think one way he really got better as he got older was when he started making his teammates better. He stays after workouts to help teammates and take things he learned and instill it in them. That’s a part that’s great because he’ll go into Ohio State as a follower, learn from the older guys and then he’ll be a leader for the younger guys as he gets older.”
BSB: Is there a performance of his that stands out to you?
Harris: “There was a game where we were playing Patriot High School, and at the time they were No. 5 in the metro area. We have a freshman running back named Ricky Slade who already has an offer from Ohio State. Before the game, Matt told Ricky, ‘I’m going to make sure nothing happens to you tonight, and tonight you’re going to have the best game of your life.’ Running behind Matt, that kid ended up running for eight touchdowns.”
BSB: What do you think made the difference for Ohio State in his recruitment?
Harris: “Matt is a person who’s about relationships. He’s all about relationships and wants to be able to trust you. Coach Meyer and him have always had a great relationship, and in my personal opinion, I think out of every head coach Matt had the best relationship with Coach Meyer. When Ed Warinner and him became close it made the decision easier, and then you add Larry Johnson and Zach Smith to it and it just felt right for him. When the whole coaching staff is guys you enjoy being around and enjoy talking to, I think that was a big deal for him and put Ohio State over the hump.”
BSB: What makes Larry Johnson and Zach Smith so effective as recruiters?
Harris: “This is going to sound very cliché, but they are the same people all the time. They’re just very genuine people. Coach Johnson is a guy I personally look up to. I think he’s a wonderful coach and a wonderful human being. Zach Smith is a little younger and knows the lingo the kids use, but he’s always himself. That mixture of guys in Virginia is wonderful. There’s not too many schools with a one-two punch like that in any state.”
BSB: How would you describe Burrell’s personality on and off the field?
Harris: “It won’t take long for the student body at Ohio State to know who he is, and I mean that in a good way. When you see a guy who’s that big and strong, he can be intimidating – until you talk to him. I was telling a friend of mine that Matthew’s a kid who will end up tutoring a non-athlete. That’s the personality he has. He likes to help people and he’s all about helping people get better. On the field, it’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He becomes a different person when the whistle blows, even at practice.
BSB: Is there anything OSU fans might not know about him that they should?
Harris: “Matthew is a true student-athlete. He’s not coming to Ohio State just to play football. Football is a big deal to him and he loves it, but Matt is coming to Ohio State to get a bachelor’s degree and maybe even a master’s degree. That’s who he is. He’s a kid who’s going to be early to class and genuinely interested in what he’s doing. I think that kid really has a bright future, even after football is over with.”
Dublin (Ohio) Scioto four-star LB Nick Conner
Canton (Ohio) McKinley four-star RB Eric Glover-Williams
Cocoa, Fla., three-star CB Jamel Dean
Burke (Va.) Lake Braddock Secondary three-star WR A.J. Alexander
Macedonia (Ohio) Nordonia four-star CB Denzel Ward
Valdosta, Ga., three-star CB Joshua Norwood
Draper (Utah) Corner Canyon three-star OT Branden Bowen
St. Paul (Minn.) Cretin-Derham four-star DE Jashon Cornell