2014 LB Tyler Burke holds three offers

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Middle linebacker Tyler Burke sneaked up to the line of scrimmage Friday and darted for the quarterback as soon as the center flinched. Immediate sack.

The 2014 prospect jogged over to the sideline a few plays later and turned toward a Coatesville assistant coach: "So, was that good?"

"Yeah," the assistant said, patting Burke's helmet, "that was good."

College coaches already recognize the junior's speed. Coatesville head coach Matt Ortega initially groomed the athlete to become a quarterback. But when he added 60 pounds in two years and still sprinted sideline-to-sideline with the same quickness, he knew he found a kid to build a defense around.

"He's the nicest kid off the field," Ortega said. "But on defense? Man, he's nasty."

Burke finished with 13 tackles and a sack against Central Dauphin East on Friday, adding another few clips to a highlight tape that FBS coaches from as far as Washington are bound to watch. Burke already holds offers from Maryland, N.C. State and Temple -- and both he and his coach are expecting future scholarship offers to roll in quicker than Burke's line to the quarterback.

At 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, he's already close to the prototypical size of a college linebacker -- and he earned his driver's permit just two months ago.

"I know I have to work a lot harder," Burke said. "I'm young, I'm 16, so I got to get used to it and pick up the little fundamentals, because I'm bigger than everyone so I overpower them. I just have to get better at the small stuff. I can get a lot better."

More than a dozen colleges seem to agree. Burke received 20 recruiting letters Friday, and many teams in the East -- along with the Washington Huskies -- have kept in touch. His favorite schools at this point include Notre Dame, Maryland, North Carolina State, Boston College and Penn State.

He's also hearing from Virginia, Pitt, Virginia Tech and Connecticut.

With academics and a team that now has him playing both ways -- he's also the starting tight end -- Burke hasn't yet planned out his future visits. But he did manage to visit two of his favorites over the summer.

"I went out to Notre Dame in August to watch a practice, and it was real nice out there," he said. "I went up to Penn State before all the sanctions in June. I still like them. I would think about it -- but not a lot."

Burke said he's not sure whether schools would be interested in him at tight end, but his quickness managed to catch Central Dauphin East's secondary off-guard. He caught one ball for a 24-yard touchdown.

He became a starting linebacker last season, and Ortega believes that's where his future lies. If Burke remains on this path, Ortega believes he'll be the most-coveted recruit he's ever coached. As of now, his best-ever player was former Penn State cornerback Knowledge Timmons, a mid-level recruit and situational college player.

"Honestly, I tell people I've had 17 kids who've gone D-I," Ortega said, "and I keep saying this kid's probably going to be No. 1. He's going to have the most offers, I bet. He's going to be special."