Coach Dantonio has said he'd like to have 4-6 offensive linemen in his 2007 recruiting class, but so far Bearcat Insider is not aware of any offensive line commits. However, we did recently find out about a UC offer to Ben Burkett of St. John Jesuit High School in Toledo, Ohio.
St. John's head football coach, Doug Pearson, recently spoke to Bearcat Insider about his prized offensive lineman. "Ben's about 6' 4.5" about 264 pounds. He has offers from Cincinnati, Northwestern, Akron, Kent State, Bowling Green, Toledo, Miami, Central Michigan and Western Michigan. The problem is a lot of the MAC coaches that come in here have said they doubt they‘ll get him because he‘ll be in a Conference USA or Big Ten school."
Coach Pearson had just talked to Bearcat offensive line coach Dan Roushar about Burkett last week. "I think UC is in his top three right now. One thing about UC, they're not recruiting MAC football players right now. They can't. He's a lower level Big Ten guy, I guess. He's visited Ohio State and Michigan unofficially. I really thought he'd get recruited by Indiana, Purdue and Michigan State. I personally think he can play on that level. If he ends up at UC, that's fine with me. I have a lot of respect for Coach Dantonio and what he's doing down there."
Burkett split time between tackle and center at St. John's this season. "He originally played tackle for us. I have a giant sophomore center about 6' 5.5"/276 pounds right now. He's my next Division I prospect, but he injured his leg. Ben moved from tackle to center. Ben will be a center at the next level, I think, or maybe a guard." Cincinnati has a real need for centers. Jeff Reinstatler, the starter, was moved there in the spring, and Chris Flores, the back-up, has been playing center only slightly longer. Despite Burkett's limited time at center this year, Coach Pearson felt he excelled at the position. "He's good at the shotgun snap and coming off of that. Most high school kids are worried about the snap and don't come off well, but he does both."
There are plenty of big kids playing high school football these days, but everyone is looking for the big kid with good feet. Coach Pearson addressed Burkett's quickness. "I think he's got very quick feet, good bend. Most high school players can't bend like he does. They're stiff. He's been to different camps, and his technique is very good. One of my offensive line coaches was a pretty good offensive lineman at the University of Toledo, and he said during the season that Ben has second or third year college technique right now."
Despite all the praise, Coach Pearson also identified an area of need. "The only thing with him is he's going to have to add 20-25 pounds. He'll probably have to be about 290 to play." The good news is Ben has the frame to add that kind of weight quickly. "He's a big, big kid. I think he could get to 300 pounds, no problem. I see him as a 285 to 290 pound center."
The other added bonus about Burkett is his intelligence. "He's very bright and a good student so he can make the line calls like he did for me this year," said Pearson.
Every recruit can take five official visits, but Coach Pearson didn't think his big guy would take all his trips. "I doubt he'll take all five of his visits, but I would expect him to take at least three. I would expect him to visit Northwestern, UC and Miami of Ohio."