Warren Robins (Ga.) Defensive lineman Victor Burely is one of the top recruits in the 2023 class, regardless of position. The 6'5", 275lbs prospect holds double-digit offers and is being pursued by the nation's premier programs. In this interview with Sports Illustrated All-American. he dishes on his game, recent recruiting visits and upcoming plans in March.
So as a top-ranked recruit on the defensive line, what is his game that sets Burley apart? The message from college coaches has been clear.
"They tell me I have good hand placement, quick hands, and I really know the game," he said. They can tell I have been learning the game longer than others because it is automatic second nature to me with how I attack and place my hands."
Is there an aspect of Burley's game that he believes separates him from the rest? Yes.
"Just the level of physicality that I play with," he said.
This is something Burley takes pride in on each and every play, and it is something he wants to build upon by improving his footwork and hips during the off-season.
It has already been a busy off-season for the South Georgia standout, as he made trips to Georgia, Tennessee and Clemson in the month of January.
Shortly after the Bulldogs ended their forty-plus year title drought, he took in Athens.
"It felt good to be there," Burley said of the trip to the home state program. "It made me feel like I was a top target for them."
Under the tutelage of Trey Scott, the Bulldogs continue to produce defensive linemen at a high clip, and Scott is leading the charge for Burley.
"With coach Scott, he just keeps it real with me," Burley said of his relationship with the Georgia Defensive line coach. "It feels like family every time I talk to him."
Seeing how Scott can mold his game is another important aspect of the relationship between the two.
"Just seeing how he can help me improve my quick movement, especially on the interior and helping with interior pass rushing and just the little things like that," Burley said of the appeal to play for a developer like Scott.
In-state recruits always hear about the home-state school, so it is usually on their mind. Burley is a seasoned vet on the recruiting trail and can block out the outside noise, but a strong message from Kirby Smart has weighed heavy on his mind since the conclusion of the January trip.
"Ther is one thing I have kept on my mind since that trip," Burley said. "After the trip, Coach Smart told me, we need more players like you to come in so we can win another one. That has kind of stayed on my mind since."
Second-year head coach Josh Heupel has also been active in recruiting Burley, and the Vols managed to get him to campus on multiple occasions in 2021. The first-year turnaround on Rocky Top caught the attention pf the elite defender.
"Coach Heupel, I just love what he is doing with the program right now," Burley said about what stands out about Tennessee. "When he came in, Tennessee was struggling, but in his first year, he actually showed something."
Obviously, it helps to have long-time elite recruiter and developer Rodney Garner on the staff in Knoxville and leading the charge for Burley. The two have already built a strong relationship.
"With Coach Garner, he is a great human being and a great person to talk," Burely said. "It always feels like family when I talk to him. It doesn't matter if it is on the phone or in-person or if we text; it just feels different."
The visit to Tennessee in January only helped to solidify this as Garner was able to fully display to the top recruit how much a priority he is to the Vols.
"That day was more about the person than football," Burley added. "They had all of the stuff going on, but Coach Garner made sure I was a priority. That just really felt different. He is making sure that it is more than just about football. He talked to me about doing taxes and stuff, I was like, man, he is really putting me on things for life."
Garner's track record boasts the likes of Derek Brown and Marlon Davidson, among others, but it is not just the on-field production Garner gets from his players that stands out to Burley. The continued relationship after their college days end has caught his attention as well.
"One thing that really says something is that even though Coach has moved schools, Derek Brown and all of them, they still come to Tennessee and talk to him," Burley said. "That just shows the type of relationship he has with his players, especially with them being in the NFL and taking the time out of their day to come to see him at Tennessee."
Burley ended the month with a return trip to Clemson to check out the new look defensive staff following the departures of Brent Venables and Todd Bowles.
"It was very important for me to just meet the new coaches there, and to build a relationship with them was very special," he said of the trip. I do like Clemson, so I wanted to make sure it was still there and there was no drop off."
Burley already had a relationship with new defensive line coach Nick Eason from Auburn, so there was some familiarity, but with Wesley Goodwin stepping into Brent Venables's role, it was important for Burley to see the new vibe on campus.
"They picked up where they left off," he said. "There was no drop-off, in fact, it might have been a little bit better than the old staff."
Clemson has conitnued to produce elite defensive linemen and are continuing to use four-down fronts, so that is another key factor for the Tigers.
"That is really appealing to me because it allows me to be more versatile and be the player I am now," Burley said of this. "The defense we have ran the past three years has allowed me to be more versatile and play all across the line, so if I go to Clemson, there would be no drop-off. It would be me playing across the line, being who I am."
With those trips behind him, other programs are vying to get Burley on campus in March once the dead period lifts and he already has three trips in place.
"March 5th, I will be at Florida State. On the 19th, I will be at South Carolina. On the 26th, I will be at Florida."
So what kind of timeline is Burley looking at with his recruitment?
I will probably be dropping a top school, maybe in the spring, but I may drop one before," he said. "With the commitment, I may commit sooner than later, just maybe. I am not sure yet."
So for the defensive lineman who is hearing pitches from numerous elite programs and recruiters, what is Burley looking for in a school?
"First, I am looking for education, but with that, all of the schools that are recruiting me offer a good education," Burley said of this. "I am looking for relationships between coaches and players and coaches and coaches and a community where it feels like home. That is a big one. Last, it is about, does my family trust this college to leave me here for the next three to four years?"