Thursday, December 2, 2010

the recruit: Rob Burns

Name: Rob Burns
Position: DE
Hometown: Ashburn
School: Stone Bridge
Height: 6'7"
Weight: 230

ESPN: 77; three stars; #79 DE
Rivals: 5.6; three stars; VA #15
Scout: three stars; #56 DE

Other offers: Penn State, Stanford, Boston College, Michigan State, Maryland, Syracuse, Rutgers, Duke, Wake Forest

Rob Burns was one of the first guys Mike London offered upon being named head coach, and his name was at the top of the board for most UVA fans. UVA was his first offer (and remained so for a few months), his classroom work is strong, and he hails from one of the state's top teams. Priority recruit. So it might have worried people who read the CavsCorner article about Thompson Brown when Brown referred to London telling him something about "closing out the defensive line class."

Burns was obviously a touch worried too, because he scooted his decision timeframe up and was committed to UVA within a few days of Brown, making sure to get in ahead of a visit day that he wasn't going to attend.

One of the few UVA commits still in the hunt for a state title, Burns anchors one of the state's top defenses. Stone Bridge held regular season opponents to 56 points all season (and often scored about that many in one game), shut out four teams, and held one hapless opponent to 13 yards of total offense all game long. He plays tight end, too (and lacrosse); a natural fit for a guy who's as tall as a power forward and described by his coach as fast. But he's defense all the way in college.

And he'll almost certainly stick at end, too. Despite his height - 6'7, 6'8 is tall for a lineman; you need leverage, after all - ESPN and his coach both credit him with good ability to get down and keep his pad level low. That said, he's probably too tall and definitely too thin for a move to tackle unless he adds another 50 pounds, minimum. (This is the same coaching staff that thinks 240-pound John-Kevin Dolce should be used as a run-stopping tackle, but still.) Five defensive ends are listed on the incoming section of the depth chart, but Burns is one of the most likely to stick there.

All four of UVA's two-deep defensive ends return in 2011, plus DE number five, Billy Schautz. (I expect Jeremiah Mathis to return to the defense next year.) Even if the somewhat underwhelming Zane Parr loses his starting job, Jake Snyder is a third-year sophomore next year, and field-ready. Chances are not good for a true freshman DE to see the field. After that, though, it's open season on the two-deep, with Parr and Cam Johnson graduating next year. Just by virtue of being so damn tall (and plenty athletic), Burns is one of the freakier physical specimens in the incoming class. With his speed, height, and reasonably impressive array of college offers, he should be a quality pass-rusher as well as able to close off the edge to outside running plays. Barring any five-star superfreaks in the upcoming recruiting classes, there's no reason to believe Burns shouldn't develop into at least a two-year starter on the D-line.

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