Commitment Date: 10/12/15
Commitment in the Class: 19th
Accolades: Rated the No.2 safety in Maryland, No.5 in the East and No.35 in the country … selected for 2016 Offense-Defense All-American Bowl ... consensus all-state selection as a junior (37 tackles, interception) and senior (41 tackles, two interceptions) ... three-time first-team All-Metro selection by Baltimore Sun ... finished career with 172 tackles, 7 interceptions and 12 touchdowns … also lettered in track and field.
Recruiting Story: Early offers from Virginia and Virginia Tech got Burrell off to a fast start the summer before his junior season, but the three-star prospect was being slow played by Maryland. Had the Terps moved as fast as the Cavaliers and the Hokies did, this could have been a different story.
Burrell liked a lot of schools during his junior season – Florida State, Oregon, Penn State, others – and saw his offer list grow with scholarships from Boston College, Duke and Wake Forest. Still no Maryland, who told Burrell they wanted to see his senior year film.
“[Maryland] is an offer I’m looking for,” Burrell said in Jan. 2015. “It’s a school I know, and it’s a school I like. I’ve seen games there, went to a camp there, been on campus – it’s a good place. And obviously I know a lot of people there too.”
Shortly after the 2015 signing class, former secondary coach Daronte Jones – in what turned out to be his only year with the program – wanted to start tapping into his East Coast connections. High on his radar was Burrell, who Jones and then-defensive coordinator Dave Aranda agreed was worthy of an offer and a high priority for the program.
“I was very shocked by the offer because Wisconsin, just the name right there, they have a good reputation,” Burrell said in Feb. 2015. “My interest in them is very high. They are not like any of my other offers and it is pretty strong chance I am going to go up there and see how the school is. Football wise, they are very good and talented. I would love to go up there. I really love Wisconsin and in the Big Ten you play against the best of the best.”
Burrell stayed active following his junior season, attending The Opening regional and taking unofficial visits to Duke, Syracuse and Virginia. He took his official visit to Nebraska in September and before heading on his Wisconsin official, named a top five that included the Badgers and Huskers, as well as Boston College, Duke and Syracuse.
Everything changed for Burrell on his official to Madison for the Big Ten opener. He felt a bond with the current players, was impressed by the atmosphere and felt wanted by the coaching staff, who said that he was a key pieces to their class and had a chance to play early with the seniors graduating. By the time he flew home, Burrell knew that Wisconsin was the place he wanted to play.
His recruitment wasn’t quite over, however. Maryland fired Randy Edsall and hired D.J. Durkin, who immediately offered Burrell, giving the safety an offer he had been waiting over a year for. As it turns out, the lack of attention from Edsall and the staff irritated Burrell. While he has a lot of friends at Maryland, the connection he developed with the UW coaches and freshman teammate Patrick Johnson trumped anything the Terps could offer him.
Why Wisconsin? “It was a beautiful place. I liked all the coaches; I liked all the player; I like the academic support they have there. That’s what I really wanted in a school. I appreciate what they have to give me and felt it was a great place.” - Burrell
Scouting Report: When I first saw Eric Burrell play, he caught my eye as a receiver. He's developed at safety and has good ball skills. He will play physical and is comfortable coming up and run support.
He will need to get stronger and thicker in the upper body but he is aggressive playing against a run. He knows how to shed blocks and keep his head in the backfield and also locate the ball carrier in traffic. He is a good tackler who knows to go low and usually wraps up and can tackle in space.
Burrell has the speed to play free safety and get to the sidelines to cover. He does not do a lot of one-on-one covering but he has an ability to change directions and stay with the receiver. He will need to get a little quicker following receivers in and out of breaks in man coverage.
I think Burrell is at his best when he's playing downhill in the running game. He is not afraid to fill the hole and make a hit. He blitzes off the edge sometimes, but he needs to do a better job of getting to the quarterback on such plays.
Overall, I like Burrell a lot. He is a high three-star prospect and once he gets his strength can be a valuable player in Wisconsin's defense of backfield. – Scout's national recruiting analyst Brian Dohn.
Coach’s Quote: “He attacks the ball in the air, has great athleticism and ball skills. Eric feels comfortable being more around the ball in the run game. He’s got savviness in that area. He likes tracking the ball carrier in the run game. More importantly, he’s got a good competitive nature and is a Wisconsin fit.” – Former Wisconsin defensive backs coach Daronte Jones
BadgerNation Prediction: It could be argued that Burrell was the top defensive back on Wisconsin’s recruiting board, an aggressive safety who takes pride in tackling and making plays at the line of scrimmage. Following spring practices where no clear-cut combination emerged, don’t be surprised if Burrell is given a prolonged look to see if he’s ready to start contributing this fall.