January 31, 2013
A good fit at Purdue
Purdue's courtship of Matt Burke was quick.
Although the former Boilermaker coaching staff had expressed interested in the 6-foot-6 Florida tight end, it wasn't until Darrell Hazell and Co., took over that Purdue put on the press. Burke took one of his official visits to West Lafayette, got an offer and quickly accepted.
He became Purdue's first - and possibly only - tight end commitment for the 2013 class. The three-star prospect from West Palm Beach had visited Boise State, San Diego State and Harvard before his official at Purdue. An academically minded student - Burke has a 3.8 gpa at Cardinal Newman High School - he was looking for a good mix.
"He wanted the best of both, a big-time football program with the opportunity for improvements, playing in a big conference, but at the same time wanted that academic base and Purdue offered both," said Cardinal Newman coach Steve Walsh. "He was heavily considering going to Harvard, but he wanted to play in a major conference such as the Big Ten; it's something he really wanted to go after."
Now, he'll have that chance. In Burke, Purdue gets a tall, rangy tight end prospect who has room to grow. Walsh says Burke came to high school having played very little youth tackle football.
"So we taught him from the ground up and he's developed into a very good football player and a fine young man," Walsh said.
"He's got a lot of range and long arms, so even in tight coverage, you can get the ball to him and he's got the best hands on our team."
Burke was the leading receiver for Cardinal Newman last season, on an offense that also features junior wide receiver Travis Rudolph, a 2014 Miami commitment.
Although Cardinal Newman's offense is a base Wing T, Burke still caught 29 passes, six of which went for touchdowns.
"We'll throw it, but my deal is that we'll do whatever the heck it is that helps us win football games," said Walsh, a former NFL quarterback of 11 seasons. "So we threw it about 35 percent of the time the last couple years and Matt's been a big part of our receiving corps. He led the team in receptions this year and was second last year. And we have a Division I junior receiver.
"Matt is going to be used to running all the routes that Division I college tight ends run. We've done all those things. He's going to have a pretty good knowledge of the passing game."
Burke will need to get bigger. Now, he weighs only 215 pounds, but Walsh says he has the frame to be able to easily put on another 20 to 25.
"He needs to live in the weight room and get a little big more physical, as far as his size," Walsh said. "He's technically, fundamental-wise, he's a very good blocker. But he's not a dominating blocker because he weighs 215 pounds right now. So he's got to bulk up, but they will do that. He is gifted at route running and catching the ball and that certainly got a lot of people recruiting them, it got their attention."
Burke was becoming a popular prospect before his commitment. He had made his three previous visits, but was starting to hear from other programs, as well, including Vanderbilt, Wisconsin, South Florida, Cincinnati and Colorado. Walsh says Florida State and Miami had also expressed interested, but hadn't offered.
But Purdue won out.
"He had a lot of good chemistry there with Darrell Hazell," Walsh said. "Everything he's heard has been very positive on how he teaches his player and implements his team. So there's a lot of good things going on with Coach Hazell and his staff."
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