Younger Than He Looks

Virginia super soph offensive tackle Burrell is already picking up offers. How much interest is Penn State showing?

Without knowing Matthew Burrell Jr., one might look at his film, peek at his offer list, and figure the 6-foot-5, 284-pound offensive tackle from Chancellor High (Fredericksburg, Va.) is a senior. Yet, that isn't the case.

A sophomore, Burrell claims 15 offers, the latest coming from Penn State, Old Dominion and Arkansas in the past week. And he's hungry for more.

“I didn't expect it to be so much so fast,” Burrell said. “But I still keep working, and know I have work to do. I knew it was going to come.”

Burrell first learned of Penn State's interest when his coach, Bob Oliver, informed his father, Matthew Burrell Sr., that Lion defensive line coach Larry Johnson had called to offer the prospect.

The tackle said he is familiar with Penn State, and went on to note his knowledge of former Nittany Lions' and Washington Redskins' linebacker LaVar Arrington, as well as former head coach and the late Joe Paterno.

It's not just tradition and former players he's aware of, though. Burrell also has a connection to current Penn State coach Bill O'Brien. But it's not so much personnel as it is material.

“They take pride in football, and it's a very large part of their tradition,” he explained. “Bill O'Brien coached for the New England Patriots, and I was a very big (Penn State) fan when I was younger. … I always liked, back when I was little, watching them play in all white and black NIKE cleats. I was always a fan of JoePa, too. He's a big inspiration to me.”

Burrell will head to University Park for the first time June 8, and will tour the campus and possibly participate in the Lions Advanced Skill Camp to be held the same day. He also intends on taking an unofficial visit for a game at Beaver Stadium this fall.

He's still unsure of what he wants in the college he will eventually choose -- that will be determined later in the process -- so for now, he's taking it all in, and continuing to improve.

To him, his biggest strengths are his work ethic -- both on and off the field -- and run blocking. He also sees himself as a smart player, and one with a good first step.

“I love to put people on the ground,” he said.

It turns out schools are lining up to get him on their grounds, too.

“I'm not really looking at anything right now; I want to finish up with strong grade, and keep on pushing and make sure I qualify for when I need to,” Burrell explained. “I want to be comfortable. I don't want to be at a school where I'm just part of a team, and I don't want to be a number on the depth chart.

“I want to be a member of a family, and I would like to play early and be a true freshman that comes out hard,” he added.

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