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Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part II  

The Haskins-Burrell Bond

In the second installment of the Burgundy and Gold Report interview with Matt Burrell, the former OSU lineman goes in depth regarding his observations of the Haskins vs Burrow battle at Ohio State, his friendship with Haskins, the hurdles the Redskins quarterback faced and more.

Although Burrell transferred to Sam Houston State University from Ohio State, he developed a lifelong bond with Redskins’ second year quarterback Dwayne Haskins. Burrell also seems to “get” the often-misunderstood Haskins on a personal level and sees a high ceiling for the quarterback in Washington. The former Buckeye lineman would like nothing more than to join his friend and former teammate in Washington.

The question of what he saw from Dwayne Haskins and Joe Burrow during their competition to be the Buckeye starting quarterback, was posed to Burrell. We discussed his thoughts on their potential success on the next level as well.

“Joe did what he could with what he had. He’d make the pocket extend or make these passes that were like oh my gosh! Nobody ever said, hey Joe you’re gonna be the greatest quarterback in college football. He never got his respect, but we knew, we felt it. We all lived down the hall [in OSU dorms]. Whether it was getting to a workout on time or getting treatments on time, Joe was that much of a professional. When it came down to who to pick in that 2017-2018 season, it was such a battle. Dwayne didn’t necessarily make it personal, but he took it as a chip on his shoulder.”

Burrell emphasized that competition was fierce between Haskins and Burrow and that either quarterback had tremendous upside. One thing that stood out was the lack of mention of the Burrow hand injury that supposedly cost him the job. From Burrell’s perspective, Haskins was the clear-cut winner by the OSU coaches. It’s also worth noting that like Haskins, Burrow continued to improve his awareness during the process, but Ohio State coaches felt more comfortable with Haskins leading the offense. Some might point to the rise of Burrow on his way to leading LSU to the National Championship in a dominating fashion. However,  Haskins fared well putting up one of the most historical seasons, statistically speaking, for an OSU quarterback posting 4,831 passing yards for 50 touchdowns with only 8 ints during the 2018 season.

As the conversation continued with Burrell, we discussed the Haskins college commitment process and the bond they formed during his visit to Ohio State as a Bullis High School Senior. Haskins reportedly was very close to officially committing to Maryland University and Burrell confirmed that much. After meeting Burrell and experiencing life in Columbus, Haskins’ choice became clear.

“During his visit to OSU he [Dwayne Haskins] took a knee at the 50-yard line and he chucked the ball from the O [midfield OSU stadium] to the back of the endzone and I was like wow! I’m like, dude please come here. I’ll be your center. We’ll knock this out. I think this could happen and he bought in [committed to OSU over Maryland]. Once he got here, he faced adversity; the same thing that I felt. You’re no longer the star player and you’re no longer the focal point. Everyone knows Dwayne’s charisma glows, his energy glows. He’s a leader, very vocal, he’s passionate. But he also has that x-factor and you’re like wow he does some things you’ve never seen before and does some amazing things. That’s the thing about both of them [Haskins and Burrow]. You couldn’t go wrong. I’m the center so in my opinion you can’t go wrong with either of them.”

Burrell followed Burrow’s journey to LSU closely after the soon-to-be #1 overall pick’s departure from Columbus.

“During my recruiting I was silently committed to LSU, l loved their atmosphere. Once I learned Joe was going there, I knew he would soak it all up and he did. Dude blew up.”

Burrell saw the talent and ability in both quarterbacks. He also formed an unbreakable bond with Haskins during their time together at OSU.

“I knew Dwayne, I thought Dwayne was the Heisman winner. All the records he broke. He is the Heisman winner in my eyes. I mean, in comparison I’ve never had anybody that was better than either of them. They fought and they’re both gonna face adversities in these next few years as Dwayne is facing now, but he’s un-wavered. We have the same tattoo actually of Simba on our arm. We say it to each other you know, Remember Who You Are, just like they said in the movie, even if we just text each other and just say remember.” 

Burrell has an in-depth understanding of some of the trials and tribulations that Haskins has faced and has followed those hiccups closely since his friend joined the Redskins. Burrell was adamant that the adversity Haskins is facing will only enhance the chip on his shoulder and ultimately make him a better quarterback.

“You lose your left tackle and you have a makeshift O-line with your best guy being Brandon Scherff. Terry [McLaurin] comes and saves the day. Terry always saves the day, he’s always been the guy to depend on. Terry takes the little things so serious and when he gets out there, he makes it look effortless. If it wasn’t for Terry who knows, not to say Dwayne wasn’t able to, but I don’t think they put the confidence in Dwayne if Terry isn’t factored in. Any man needs confidence and sometimes confidence has to come from coaches instilling confidence… that wasn’t happening with him [under Jay Gruden]. He deserved it, being a 1st round pick. Not to say he wasn’t ready, those X’s and O’s and all that stuff, you know what I mean. What more do you need, just let him sling it!  He’s gonna make mistakes, but you need him to. Lamar Jackson wasn’t Lamar his first year. He just wasn’t. Sometimes it takes longer with other people and that’s the story with me.”

As the discussion continued, the question of what it would mean to be selected by the Washington Redskin in the upcoming NFL Draft as a former 4 Star HS Recruit, growing up in Virginia. The topic was something Burrell didn’t take lightly. In fact, he revealed that it was a subject that was something he has thought about often during the pre-draft process.

“Sorry if I get emotional. I grew up watching Mark Brunell, I grew up watching Jason Campbell, I grew up when Joe Gibbs came back and thought we were back! I screamed when Trent Williams was picked from OU. I wanted to be that. I want that because D.C. is that. I’m from Virginia, 703 is tattooed on my left shoulder dude. It would mean a lot. The fact that my best friend is the quarterback… it’s personal to me. It’s so personal that I feel like I’m alive for it. I feel God saved me for that. I feel like I made it through this for that. It’s not a coincidence that Dwayne is there, Chase [Young] might go, Terry’s already there. I played with Timmy [Settle] in middle school on the same AAU travel team. Timmy played RB and I played RT and we’d run a toss and I was the lead blocker. Timmy Settle and I was go time. We grew up together from middle school to now. Me and Greg Stroman were rivals in high school. I also played with Guice in the Army High School game. I went to an FBS school and the narrative was given for me that I left and it wasn’t about talent. I don’t want anything to be given to me, I want to be slept on. I’d rather come from behind any day.”

As Washington continues to build their O-line and depth, questions loom with the Trent Williams trade rumors as well as the pending Scherff and Flowers contract negotiations. Matt Burrell is a unique under the radar small school prospect, who competed against top level competition while at Ohio State. The bond Burrell and Haskins formed could go a long way for the maturation of the Redskins quarterback by adding another familiar face to the fold, as the rebuild in Washington continues. As mentioned in The Burgundy and Gold Report Small School Spotlight; Interview with Matt Burrell Part I, Burrell’s athletic ability allow him the be the type of utility lineman that is valuable in today’s NFL. His football IQ and the ability to maul pass rushers, separate him from other late round developmental draft prospects.  The Sam Houston State lineman could be sitting there in the later stages on Day 3 of the NFL Draft. Washington would be wise to take a flier on the talented former Buckeye lineman.

By Adam Aniba


Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport and follow Matt Burrell @MattBurrell51

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