Cole Van Lanen, Eric Burrell Discuss Potential of Playing Spring Football

Jake Kocorowski

Cole Van Lanen admitted he has "a lot of roads" he can traverse with his future football plans.

Though the Big Ten declared its postponement of fall sports on Tuesday due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was some glimmer of hope. In its statement, the conference said that it will look at "a number of options regarding these sports, including the possibility of competition in the spring."

In the days since, spring football chatter has already blossomed. From Ohio State head coach Ryan Day to Purdue's Jeff Brohm to even a report by the MMQB's Albert Breer all discussing ideas, we are just over three days' past the league canceling fall contests. 

If something surfaces and actually sticks, which by all means is not guaranteed at the moment, does a player like Van Lanen stay at UW as one of the team's leaders, or begin to prepare for what could be ahead at the next level?

On a Friday Zoom call with reporters, the lineman said that he wanted to play the fall season "so I didn't have to make a decision like this."

“There's a lot of possibilities," Van Lanen said. "Like right now, I could just say, 'Screw it, I'm done,' and train. Maybe there's a way I could train and do spring ball. Maybe I just do the spring ball and then hopefully the draft gets pushed back. I stay for a whole 'nother year. There's a lot of different roads I could go down right now."

Van Lanen said he is beginning "to piece things together" but admitted there are people he needs to talk to and "still a lot of things I need to find out for myself" to reach a decision. He realizes he only gets one, and he needs to know that whatever conclusion he comes to, it has to be right for him.

He believes that this will take some time, and as he acknowledged that the team has a couple weeks off, he will use it to think about what he will do. 

“Also, we're not going to know anything with [the] NFL or anything till probably in November or even if spring ball is even going to happen, realistically," Van Lanen said. "I think one thing I have kind of on my side right now is some time. We have all fall wide open so this time now I can use to really make that decision.”

One theoretical idea Van Lanen referenced -- and likes, for that matter -- is a model that begins in early January and ends in early March. That could still allow him to train for the NFL Draft, and for other players, he believes that would allow them time to recover and play in a fall season.

"They say spring, but in reality, it's like kind of winter/beginning of spring," Van Lanen said. "I kind of liked the concept and what they're thinking about right now, and I know other guys do, too. We're pretty pumped for it.” 

[Ed. note: To note, Van Lanen did not disclose who or where the idea came from nor the specifics of games or dates. Also, see AllBadgers.com's article below about how Van Lanen believes he needs to put more film together before heading to the NFL, and how a spring season could help him in that regard.]

For Eric Burrell -- who already earned an undergraduate degree in personal finance and noted he is working towards graduating with his masters in educational leadership and policy analysis in December -- the redshirt senior safety admitted he has been thinking about the decision of whether to return for spring. 

"I'm not in favor of coming back for the fall, but I would definitely consider the spring if they can come up with a situation," Burrell said via the Zoom call on Friday. "I'm looking to take that next level, I think I earned my rights to do so, so I would definitely have to just weigh my options and see what's best for me and my family.

"That's where my mind is, but honestly, if they can figure out the right protocols and stuff for spring, I'll absolutely do it to just do it one last time. But come back for the fall, I will have to do a lot of convincing. ... It’s tough.”

More on Cole Van Lanen, Eric Burrell availability from AllBadgers.com