Cal landed two defensive linemen off official visits this past week, and St. John Bosco DL Nate Burrell was the first of the two to pull the trigger. For Burrell, it boiled down to a few pieces, comfort, the degree, and the pro development aspect.
“What made me comfortable to commit was already (having gone) anywhere from six to ten schools already,” Burrell said, “then going to Cal, meeting the players, hanging out with the players and the coaching staff in person, coach (Andrew) Browning and coach (Justin) Wilcox, and talking to them about the things Cal offers. That degree, that’s a big thing. They can also give me the best odds of getting to the NFL.”
Burrell’s host on the trip was Ethan Saunders, and along with Ricky Correia and Stanley McKenzie among others, the Cal players made him feel like part of the team.
“When I kind of knew, I wanted to talk with family first, but that first night going into the second day of hanging out with the players and it felt like I was part of the team,” Burrell recalled. “It felt like I was at Cal already, I forgot I was a recruit. When that kicked in, I thought that I had never felt this way at any other school that I’d been to. After talking with family and having a good conversation with coach Browning and coach Wilcox, that led me to make the decision.”
The pro development piece has been big for Cal in talking to their official visitors, as the Bears have a handful of former NFL scouts and personnel people in their recruiting department. That piece, along with Cal’s success at putting players into the NFL over the last couple of decades, was a big factor for Burrell.
“Knowing that Cal has people that have been in the position of recruiting guys to come to the league, they know what it takes to be an NFL caliber of player,” Burrell said. “Cal’s history speaks for itself as far as getting guys to the league. Even going into the presentation, I knew with committing to Cal I’d have a good chance of going to the league, but after that, that made me 100% sure that if I go here and do my part, they’ll do their part.”
Cal sees Burrell playing at the 3-technique, 4i, and the edge as a defensive end, and part of the visit involved interspersing clips of what he does at St. John Bosco with what Cal does. It was something that Burrell has done before with Browning, though Browning went through with a bit more of a focus on improving Burrell’s game prior to getting to Cal.
“Me and coach Browning had done that once on Zoom,” Burrell said, “then in person during the official visit. That was a big thing, just showing me what I do now that they currently do, as well as things I can currently fix, so when I get there, those things won’t happen. That was a big part of that, caring enough to do something like that, I’m pretty sure not all schools do that.”
Burrell will now join Jaxson Moi, who committed hours after Burrell, along with defensive lineman Damonic Williams and quarterback Justyn Martin in the 2022 class. Burrell already has plenty of familiarity with his future teammates.
“It was great, even before, me and Jaxson were talking about making the decision,” Burrell said, “so it was great that he joined me in the family. He’s another great player who can help us as we build this family up. I’ve known (Martin and Williams) my whole life, playing on the same team (with Justyn), playing against Damonic since I can remember.”
The next step for Burrell is his senior year, along with coming back up for visits prior to enrolling at the school. Those visits look to come soon.
“I’m 100% sold on Cal, without a doubt,” Burrell said. “Hopefully, I’ll try to get out there again, either this or next, month, but I’ll try to get out there again this season.”