Burleson a Big Man With Big Plans

It didn't matter if it was via greyshirt or Greyhound, Devin Burleson was going to go to Washington. As soon as the opportunity became a viable one for the 6-foot-8, 285-pound senior offensive lineman from Palmdale, Calif., it didn't matter whether it was this year or next, because the Highland High offensive tackle was just getting his football career started.

"When Washington put their name in the hat my decision became easy because I knew they would be my best bet as far as sports and academics went - especially academically," Burleson told Dawgman.com this week. "That was the strongest of my choices. When they started to recruit me, everything became easy. I knew what I wanted to do. The suggestions they gave me fell in line because they knew what was best for me to prepare me for the next level."

Burleson, who was a friend of Naijiel Hale's at St. John Bosco High School before transferring out to Palmdale, was looking for advice. He had played football for one season - his last one - and was known primarily as a basketball player. He averaged a double-double on the court, but had little experience with double-teams along the offensive line. But the San Diego State Aztecs saw enough in the size and skill set in the big man to offer him a scholarship to play football.

That was enough to get the Huskies intrigued. And at such a late stage in the recruiting process for the 2014 class, the new UW staff was looking at every prospect they could get tape on. Until Washington called him, Burleson wasn't thinking about delaying his enrollment. But the Huskies had a plan for his future, a chance to greyshirt and come to UW in the winter of 2014.

Inspired by his calculus teacher, Burleson wants to pursue mathematics in college and perhaps teach math one day. "Going through school, math was always my strongest subject," he said. "I enjoyed it the most because in history and in math there's facts. Here's what it is. In other subjects, like in English, it's the teacher's personal opinion that can determine your grade - but I'll always know that two plus two is four. No one can ever tell me different."

By that measure, Burleson was convinced Washington's plan for him made sense. It was an equation that added up to four.

"I knew that was my best bet was to greyshirt and take some extra time to really prepare before I went to the next level," he said. "It was really when I made my decision to go to Washington that it became the reality of what I was doing.

"The biggest thing was not only all the things the school offered me, but the people I met; the coaching staff. They all seemed like great people. I really felt comfortable meeting them. I felt comfortable in the city in that new environment and I knew I would feel welcomed."

Burleson won't be joining his teammates July 5th for the LEAP program, but he is keeping busy nonetheless. In his words, he has to so he doesn't become sedentary. Two days after the Georgia State game is Burleson's 19th birthday, and by then he'll be at a local junior college, taking enough classes to get a head start for his time at UW, but not too many that they'll start his eligibility clock.

The UW schedule will continue to be in the back of Burleson's mind all season, as he plans on attending a couple of games to remind everyone that he is a part of their future plans. "I want to catch one of the home games they are having," he said. "I wanted to watch the Washington State game, but that one is going to be at their house. I'm still planning on trying to make that one because that one is going to be a pretty crazy rivalry game. I'd just like to see that environment."

Burleson has family in the Seattle area, and also in Portland. "I have an older cousin that stays up (in Seattle)," he said. "I plan on trying to keep that relationship pretty strong so I have some family close by."

Burleson is already deep into the UW strength and conditioning workouts sent by Tim Socha, and he's planning on coaching pee-wee football as well. His brother, Mister Burnside, is almost 10 and in need of some teaching.

"Since I want to be a teacher and I also want to work on my own skill set, that would be the perfect way to do it," Burleson said, adding that his trainer - James Beasley - is also one of the pee-wee coaches.

"Everything just kind of fell into place."

Beasley has been helping him get in football shape. According to Burleson, the only mandate from the coaches was a simple one; don't get fat. "Make sure I stay quick and it'll all be taken care of once I get there," he added. "Just staying in shape right now.

"The workout they sent me - the first thing I'd have to say is that it was tough. I definitely had to build on each workout. I was pretty much a beginner in the weight room. We really haven't lifted that much for basketball. I just had to get used to getting the technique down, but I've got a good strength trainer that my parents have been paying for. It wasn't too tough in the beginning, but once I started to get the techniques and everything down that's when I started putting on the weight - moving from stable to unstable lifts, and things like that."

Burleson also admitted to changing his dietary habits. He was 255 pounds at the end of basketball season near the end of February, but is 285 now. "I've put on mostly muscle, trying to eat healthy, getting those calories and good carbs, the complex carbs - things like that," he said, adding that rotisserie chicken and spinach is his go-to meal. "I don't want to fill up on too much carbs," he said. "On those rest days, it just turns to fat. I try to stick to poultry and greens, get a good amount of protein."

Another piece to the puzzle was meeting up with the UW coaches recently at the University of Redlands satellite camp. Since that camp, Burleson could see what he needs to work on, including changing his stance and using his feet more instead of reaching. "My principal, he coached offensive line in college so I work with him one-on-one," he said. "I also have a cousin that is trying to play defensive end, so when there's time I'll work with my cousin and my principal to work on my pass blocking, my run blocking, my football - all kinds of things. I'm just trying to build everything I can so that I have a good foundation once I get to school and they can take me even farther."

While many players would resent having to sit out or delay their college plans, Burleson has taken the opposite position. "If I could do it all over again I'd make the same decision," he said, matter-of-factly. "I just wanted to get as much time before I get to the next level as I could. I could also get ahead on my credits."

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