The 19th installment of this year's Better Know a Buckeye series profiles Matthew Burrell Jr. of Woodbridge, Va. Burrell committed to Ohio State rather late and suddenly in the recruiting cycle, but the effort that led to his commitment last November was the result of a two-year effort from the coaches. This recruiting battle featured heavyweights like Alabama, Florida State, LSU, and Penn State. Persistence and a multi-pronged approach were keys to Ohio State securing a somewhat surprising verbal commitment from Burrell late in the recruiting cycle.
Matthew Burrell Jr.
- Size: 6-4/321
- Position: OL
- School: C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge, VA)
- 247 Composite: ★★★★
- National Ranking: 107
- Position Ranking: 7 (OG)
- State Ranking: 4
The feature that follows introduces Burrell by first elaborating his recruitment and the reasons for his commitment. Thereafter, I provide a scouting report for a prospect who I think to be the most versatile among the offensive linemen recruited to Ohio State in 2015. I offer a projection about a possible redshirt in 2015 before concluding with highlight film for the reader to watch at the end of the feature.
Ohio State extended its scholarship offer on May 2, 2013, which was a big day for Burrell. He already had offers from in-state Virginia and South Carolina from earlier that spring. This day in May saw Burrell pick up offers from Alabama, Ohio State, and Wisconsin on the same day. Penn State and Arkansas followed later that month. From there, Burrell's recruitment was off and running.
More Matthew Burrell at 11W
As unpopular as this would be to admit, Michigan may have been the early favorite. It was at least the offer that Burrell may have wanted the most early into his recruitment. Burrell visited Michigan in early September, only his second recorded unofficial visit. He did so with Da'Shawn Hand, a high school teammate who was then a strong Michigan lean (and later signed with Alabama). However, Michigan slow-played Burrell. Its offer only came on April 23, 2014, which was too late. Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State, and Penn State had already done well to make their case for Burrell. Michigan's offer was inconsequential to his recruitment as it unfolded through 2014.
Ohio State's coaches were persistent in recruiting Burrell through the fall of 2013 and winter of the ensuing year. It manifested in an unofficial visit to Ohio State on April 17, 2014. This visit is where Burrell got to connect with Urban Meyer in a more meaningful way than a standard phone call. Burrell had talked with Meyer intermittently since his freshman year of high school, but the in-person communication meant so much more to Burrell. Afterward, Burrell was referring to Meyer as "my man".
Enamored with what he saw in last April, Burrell returned to Ohio State at the end of May and again reconnected with Urban Meyer. Though Burrell did not return to Ohio State through the summer, The Opening in the first week of July served as more opportunity to recruit him to Ohio State. There, he made friends with Jashon Cornell and Justin Hilliard, who were having their own recruiting odysseys that eventually led both to Ohio State.
Burrell traveled across the country for the duration of the summer. He visited Clemson in the middle of June. He visited Florida State, another key player in his recruitment, in the middle of July. He returned to Florida near the end of the month to participate in Florida's Friday Night Lights camp despite initial reports Burrell would participate in Ohio State's version.
Burrell took all five unofficial visits. The visit to Ohio State for the ill-fated Virginia Tech game came first. A visit to Florida State for the Clemson game followed two weeks later. Tennessee, who was not much of a player through the his recruitment to that point, received his third official visit for its game against Florida.
The fourth official visit to Penn State for its game against Ohio State threatened to turn around the course of his recruitment. Penn State had done well enough recruiting Burrell through 2014 and even secured an unofficial visit months before this visit. The Nittany Lions definitely positioned themselves better with Burrell after that game, which was enough to get some Crystal Ball predictions on 247 Sports to select Penn State.
The final official visit to LSU came on November 8. The ensuing two weeks that followed saw Burrell vacillate among his selections before making a surprising decision on November 17.
On November 17, 2014, Matthew Burrell, Jr. committed to Ohio State as the 19th member of its 2015 recruiting class. He chose Ohio State principally over Alabama, Florida State, LSU, Penn State, and Tennessee.
Eleven Warriors had comprehensive coverage of Burrell's commitment as it happened. His father told Eleven Warriors that the impromptu decision came after a season-ending loss. Thereafter, Burrell took stock of his options and decided on Ohio State.
When asked why Ohio State, Burrell started talking about the coaches, especially Urban Meyer.
"Urban Meyer, Urban Meyer, and Urban Meyer," Burrell said about what Ohio State had that other opportunities didn't offer. "He's a great leader, a great father and a great man. Ohio State has been there since the beginning, they offered me my sophomore year, and they've never changed. Zach Smith has never changed, and even when Larry Johnson, Sr. became my lead recruiter, he never changed. Coach Johnson is the same as he was when recruited me for Penn State."
WHERE HE EXCELS
Ohio State signed six true offensive linemen this recruiting class. Of those six, Burrell might be the most versatile. At 6-4 and 321 pounds, he can play almost any position on the offensive line.
Burrell played offensive tackle in high school though his likely landing spot in college is offensive guard. His greatest attribute is in run-blocking. Simply put, he is a bulldozer. Burrell pulls well and hits the hole hard. He moves to the second level quickly as well. His hip movement is fantastic and it shows, on occasions, when he is obliterating two defenders on a given play.
Burrell's frame translates well to college football. At 6-4 and 321 pounds, Burrell already has college size. Like most prospects, however, he will need to make the most of his time in the conditioning program. Burrell could conceivably add some good weight and keep or improve his speed at Ohio State.
Finally, Burrell may have been a high-priority target for Ohio State's coaches because of his personality. By all accounts, Burrell is an affable young man with a personality that translates well to being coached. In other words, his jovial nature should make for a level-headed college football player once he survives the initial adjustments he must make to his game. Personality matters at this level, especially when prospects learn things will no longer be as easy as they were in high school.
MUST WORK ON
Burrell's hip movement is elite. His footwork leaves a lot to be desired. His footwork is why translating him to a college offensive tackle is hard to fathom. He does not move laterally as well as a college offensive tackle should, which is why he projects better as a guard.
He has a great frame with which to work, but needs to focus on adding lower-body strength. He is a bit top-heavy at the moment.
I'm leaning toward a projection of a redshirt in 2015. Marcelys Jones' departure creates a small opening in the two-deep, but the opportunities for playing time at guard will not be as prevalent this year. Consider this a good problem for Ohio State to be returning the interior of its national championship offensive line. A redshirt would allow Burrell to focus on making the most of his frame with an eye toward playing time next year.