During the summer doldrums of sports news, many college football fans are starved for news and information regarding their favorite teams.
With that in mind, we at B5Q have decided to take a more detailed look at each walk-on contributor and scholarship player on the Wisconsin Badgers football roster for 2020 in a new feature, our 2020 returnee profiles.
Each weekday we will breakdown one player on the football roster to look back at their recruiting process, their career as a Badger to this juncture and lastly preview their potential contribution to the team in 2020 and beyond.
Without further ado...here we go.
Name: Eric Burrell
2020 eligibility: redshirt senior
Recruiting info out of HS: 247 Composite 3-star, No. 30 safety, Severn, Md.
2016 Recruitment: Coming from the east coast, Burrell was a high priority for teams out there. Home state Maryland pushed hard for him, as did Duke, Boston College and Syracuse. He was a three-time first-team All-Metro selection by Baltimore Sun and made the all-state team as a junior.
He committed to the Badgers despite visiting for a loss against Iowa and he came in after Michael Caputo and Tanner McEvoy graduated, leaving a large void in the defensive backfield.
Career statistics: 103 tackles (62 solo, 3.5 for loss), two sacks, four interceptions, 13 passes defended, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries
2019 statistics: 55 tackles (34 solo, 3.5 for loss), two sacks, three interceptions, nine passes defended, two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries
Player overview: Burrell is already considered to be one of the best safeties in coverage in the whole B1G. Pro Football Focus named him one of the top-10 players returning in the conference this year and said: “Burrell was targeted 25 times in coverage this past year and allowed just 10 to be caught while combining for nine interceptions and pass breakups. He could very well end the 2020 season as one of the five best safeties in the country in coverage.”
Burrell was named honorable mention all-B1G last season after stepping in as the starting free safety when Scott Nelson was lost for the year in the first game of the season due to injury. Nelson will be back in 2020 and he and Burrell will form a formidable duo at free safety.
Best case scenario for 2020: The best case scenario for Burrell is that he builds on his strong junior year campaign and works his way into the discussion for first or second all-B1G safety. He continues to force turnovers and incompletions at an above average to elite rate and also works on missing fewer tackles.
Likely role on team in 2020: With literally every player in the secondary returning in 2020 there are going to be, uh, some playing time issues. Jim Leonhard has shown a willingness to play with three safeties on the field at once and Nelson, Burrell and Reggie Pearson, Jr. would definitely be one of the best safety trios in the conference.
Burrell may have to take on a bit of a smaller role in 2020, but he should still see the field plenty and if Nelson isn’t 100% healthy Burrell has already proven that he’s more than capable of being the starting free safety.