Welcome back to another installment of The Burgundy and Gold Report Small School Spotlight. The offseason has featured Q&A’s with some of the brightest small school, up and comers in the nation. The latest interview, however, might be the most intriguing to date. This Q&A was so jam packed that a two-part series was warranted. It features a 1 on 1 interview with Ohio State transfer C/G Matt Burrell of Sam Houston State University. Burrell has developed lifelong relationships during his playing career with current Redskins players Tim Settle, Terry McLaurin and Dwayne Haskins, which will be discussed in depth in Part 2 of the Burrell interview. Today the focus is on Burrell’s maturation process as an offensive lineman.
Burrell transferred to Sam Houston State for the 2018-2019 season as a redshirt junior. He had previously been enrolled at OSU as a four-star recruit in the 2015 class. The 6’3” 306 lb. lineman from Woodbridge, VA appeared in 12 games during his time as a Buckeye. Burrell was part of an intense battle for the starting right guard spot at Ohio State in 2017 which ultimately was awarded to Branden Bowen. In spite of that, Burrell provided valuable depth along the Buckeye offensive line before ultimately deciding to transfer.
In Part 1 of the Burrell interview with The Burgundy and Gold Report, he revealed:
- what he learned during his journey at OSU
- his versatility and ability to adjust on the fly
- what he needs to work on in the next phase of his football career.
B&G Report– What led to your decision to leave Ohio State and what are some of the lessons you learned during your time in Columbus?
“I saw myself coming into the Ohio State playing a certain role, so rotating and playing with the two’s was a new experience. At Ohio State, if you don’t do anything to put yourself a step ahead, then there’s gonna be a step made for you and that’s where it kind of went stagnant. There was a point and time I didn’t really understand what my value was to the team, however, I was still having a positive impact and I was still seeing improvements in my game. It was very frustrating and very hard to kind of let time do its own grace.
I went through a lot of things. My parents got a divorce and I dealt with financial struggles. There was a lot of adversity provided for me that I wasn’t ready to handle. A lot came from my insecurities, questioning myself, questioning my foundation, questioning my overall purpose in life, period. And I dealt with mental health issues. I feel like my adversity mentally and physically has put an armor on me that I wouldn’t have been able to develop any other way. My transition was entirely a personal decision. I didn’t necessarily care about playing tier one and playing at the top level. I wanted to quiet the noise and wanted to see exactly if this is what I loved and if I loved it, I’d save it. That’s what I did. It wasn’t easy [transferring from OSU]. I’m blessed the lord had mercy on me because he gave me another shot, so I can provide a better image of myself because I wasn’t myself at OSU. My passion has always been my positive and my negative. I love football and I love OSU, those guys are my brothers.”
****More in The Burgundy and Gold Report Interview with Matt Burrell-Part 2 about his relationships at OSU***
B&G Report- Your tenacity and fire as a mauler is evident on your film, but do you believe you have the ability to play other positions on the O-line?
“At the time when I was at Ohio State, I didn’t think that I was [as confident], now that I know, I have a stigma about me that I can’t be stopped and I don’t think it will ever go anywhere. My Junior year I started at left tackle and played RT and the end of that season [2017-2018 season]. This past season I played RG and then played Center in the first half of the season. I had a deal with my hand and had to switch to the guard, but you can even put me at tight end. I feel like I can do anything and that comes from my basketball background. I played basketball my whole life. I always like to think I can play point guard, center, shooting guard you name it. I was 340 lbs. at one point in high school, then I was 320 before, I’ve been 270 before, I’ve been 290 before it all depends on what you want me to be.”
B&G Report– The Burgundy and Gold Report projected you as a C/G as well as a Swing Tackle, on the next level, with the ability to line up a tight end in sub-packages. What aspects of your game do you believe you need to work on in order to have success on the next level?
“When I’m engaged, I believe if I win that chess battle 20 times out 20, I’m gonna win that block. With that being said, I have to do a more consistent job of winning that chess battle [referring to the mental aspect of blocking] and there’s times that could happen because I’m not that heavy, that if I do lose, I’ll lose my second step. However, I’m quick enough to recover. So, I think overall my strength will help my grip.
“I think that I need to improve on everything as far as my game. Continuing to sharpen up my sets, whether it’s a 45 degree or jump set or bail set. I have a plethora of ideas when it comes to working on my game. I work on it in different ways, I use different bands, whether its resistance or weights. I’ve learned from the best of the best when it comes to preparing your body to play offensive line. With that being said, I watch a lot of film, videos of my steps over and over and zoom it in. So, when you ask me what I should work on I’m gonna tell you everything. I’m not remotely close to what I think I can be, but I also know I’m a late bloomer and I felt that in my body you know. I can jump higher than I ever have now and I can run faster than I ever have now. Mechanics have slowed down for me and it just took me time. I kind of made it longer for myself, but I think it was God’s way of showing me that sometimes your time is the only time that matters.”
Fit in Washington
Burrell was one of the most engaging and upfront prospects to interview with The Burgundy and Gold Report. In saying that, his talent is undeniable and his ability to create a clean pocket and running lanes is impressive. The Redskins current O-line situation is a bit murky with Brandon Scherff’s contract status up in the air, the Trent Williams debacle and whether the over-achieving Ereck Flowers will be brought back for the vacant LG slot. Starting Center Chase Roullier and Morgan Moses seem to be the only sure things as far as returning starters go on the O-line. Although the Redskins invested 2019 Draft selections in Wes Martin and Ross Pierschbacher they are viewed as depth at this juncture. Martin showed promise filling in for Scherff, but after Martin the Redskins have little depth along the line. Enter Matt Burrell into the equation.
The former Buckeyes dominance was on display while at Sam Houston State. But make no mistake, unlike other small school prospects, Burrell’s experience at OSU should go a long way during the draft evaluation process. As previously mentioned during the interview, his experience and ability to play every position on the line should make Burrell an asset as a late round option in this year’s draft. Retaining Scherff and Williams beyond this season could be a tall task, but adding a versatile lineman with the ability to play multiple positions is something to keep an eye on for Redskins’ fans.
A question often asked to NFL hopefuls by team scouts, coaches and GM’s is “What’s your why?” In Burrell’s case, his newborn son changed his perspective and values and his new found love of the game was enhanced after he left the bright lights of Columbus to join the Sam Houston football program.
Stay tuned for The Burgundy and Gold Report’s Interview with Matt Burrell-Part 2, as we go in depth about his close relationship with Redskins’ quarterback Dwayne Haskins and his thoughts about potentially reuniting with his former college and middle school teammates in Washington (Terry McLaurin and Tim Settle).
By Adam Aniba
Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and follow Matt Burrell @MattBurrell51
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