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Bellarmine senior linebacker Reese Burrill was shown the blueprint of how to be a successful student-athlete.
His father played Division I football at UMass. His older brother, Jackson Burrill, is also a Division I football player and is on scholarship as a senior tight end at San Jose State and is on a Spartans squad that is off to its best start since 1955 with a 4-0 record.
“I’ve just always envied them and looked up to that so much,” Reese Burrill said. “I’ve just grown up wanting to be the best player on the field at all times and just wanting to be like so much better than everyone else.”
Jackson Burrill instilled lessons in Reese Burrill that have helped lift him into a college-level player.
He knows about the work ethic on the field, but there is a whole other world to tap into outside of the gridiron: social media. Jackson Burrill knew he needed to be on it, knowing how it’s the largest platform in the recruiting sphere.
So, Reese Burrill was on Twitter his freshman year, always making film and creating relationships with different coaches to the best of his ability.
“I feel like it’s definitely been an advantage to have a brother that’s done that because like a lot of his old coaches, wherever they’ve gone I’ll be able to reach out to them and they will be like, ‘Oh, yeah. I recognize your name. I’ll check your film out.’ And then they check my film out and they like it and then I have another connection with a new school, so it’s definitely been an advantage for me,” Reese Burrill said.
But Burrill never quite had it easy as a youth football player.
His birthday fell on a bad day, meaning he was the youngest kid on his team each season. So, he was playing with those who were two years older than him.
Once he reached high school and was playing with players his own age, though, that’s when Burrill’s career really took a positive spin. Things felt slower. He felt like he could really compete.
“I was like, ‘Well, now I’m starting to play like how I feel like I should be, like I’ve been working for,’” Reese Burrill said. “That’s when I started feeling like I can really do something with it, and then I got pulled up to varsity.”
Even in those moments, Reese Burrill was still plugged away from back on the depth chart, and he gradually made plays and found ways to work his way up the ladder.
Reese Burrill appeared in one play in the preseason and caused a fumble. Then he was in for three plays the next game. And then, by game one of the ever-challenging West Catholic Athletic League schedule, there Reese Burrill was, starting against some of the best Northern California has to offer.
“That was when I started to feel really confident with myself and really confident with my abilities,” Reese Burrill said. “That’s just when I really started to think I could be something, because especially me and my brother are really competitive and I even got him to admit I was a better sophomore than he was when he was on varsity. That was a good confidence booster.”
Today, Reese Burrill is garnering the opportunities to play collegiately like his older brother just ahead of his final campaign as a Bellarmine Bell.
After recording 72 tackles, nine tackles for loss and three forced fumbles as a junior en route to all-league honors despite suffering an injury that forced him to play just six games, the college interest is coming in.
Offers from Cal Lutheran and Dickinson College have poured in, and Reese Burrill – who boasts a 3.7 GPA – said he’s always been talking to a slew of Division I schools in Bucknell, Cal Poly, Lehigh, the University of San Diego and UC Davis.
This year, Reese Burrill is ready to bring Bellarmine back to the promised land under its new coaching staff after the team went 2-8 and 3-8, respectively, the past two years, along with finding ways to make more of an all-around impact in every facet.
“For me the past two years I’ve really only been a help on defense, so this year I want to be able to play, be a weapon on both sides of the offense,” Reese Burrill said. “Last year I caught a little bit out of the backfield. I had probably like 10 receptions, but they were all pretty spread out and it wasn’t like I was getting constantly targeted or I wasn’t like a constant threat on the field.
“But this year I want to be able to be a weapon on both sides of the field, and then on the defensive side I feel like I firmly believe that I could be linebacker of the year at least. I feel like that’s something that I could shoot for. It’s definitely in my sights.”
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