One of the most overlooked, but talented members of the 2022 Notre Dame recruiting class is Traverse City (Mich.) Central standout Josh Burnham. A linebacker commit for the Irish, Burnham doubles in high school as a quarterback, and he had a monster senior season.
Burnham's brilliance in his final season earned him the Gatorade Player of the Year honor in the state of Michigan. The award isn't just about his dominance on the field, as it also recognizes academics and character.
Burnham rushed for 1,516 yards and 29 touchdowns as a quarterback while also throwing for 955 yards and 14 more touchdowns. The 6-4, 215-pound linebacker racked up 102 tackles, 12 tackles for loss and two picks on defense.
According to the Gatorade press release he also maintains a 3.32 grade point average in the classroom. The release also noted his volunteer work with students with special needs and with a group called Freedom Builders, which seeks to create affordable housing.
Here is my film analysis of Burnham:
The first thing that jumps out about Burnham is his frame and length. Listed between 6-3 and 6-4, and 215 pounds, Burnham possesses an excellent frame that will allow him to fill out quite a bit. Right now I project Burnham as an inside linebacker, and while I don't see it happening, it wouldn't shock me if he outgrew linebacker and ended up coming off the edge.
Beyond a great frame, Burnham possesses elite length, which is evident on the football field and the basketball court. Burnham is an impressive athlete, showing off impressive foot quickness, easy change of direction skills and top-notch burst. Not only does Burnham have very good long speed, his short-area burst and closing speed is outstanding.
Right now he doesn't know how to use that length as a weapon, and that is the one thing that drags down his grade a bit, at least his current grade. Burnham is still a bit of a raw prospect from a technical standpoint. He must improve his footwork at linebacker and also enhance his block destruction inside. At this point he's just getting by on tools and God-given ability, and his technical game is hindered by the fact he plays so many different positions (he plays quarterback, running back and even some wide receiver).
While that might seem like a criticism, a talent evaluation has to love what he sees on film from Burnham. His evaluation is all about the ceiling, and his ceiling is truly elite. Burnham is already a highly productive two-way player in high school, but he's far from being a technician as a player.
Once he starts to focus on defense you'll see his technical game improve. Once his technical game catches up to his physical tools the Traverse City Central athlete will become a truly dominant defensive player. He's just scratching the surface of what he can become, and if your focus is on his upside (and it should be) there aren't many better linebackers in the country.
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