Wide receiver Joshua Burrell was the first receiver and the 8th commit to Florida State’s 2021 class. In Tomahawk Nation’s previous wide receiver recruiting article, Burrell’s game was described by our own NoleThruandThru:
Burrell is a big and bulky receiver and uses that to his advantage on the field, bullying defenders and using his body to shield. He also routinely leaves defenders in his tracks with his speed. The first word that comes to mind when watching Burrell is “dynamic,” and it’s easy to see why he’s one of the top players in the Carolinas.
What else can fans expect from Burrell? Let’s break down his film and give our thoughts:
Burrell is a big, thick athlete at the WR position with a build reminiscent of past ‘Noles such as Willie Haulstead and De’Cody Fagg. Burrell is a long-strider, making him deceptively quick for his size—he’s been clocked as fast as 11.27 in the 100 meter dash. He’s yet another athlete for Mike Norvell’s offense who can do multiple things, providing some position versatility—sounds good to us. Let’s take a look at a few clips:
1: Pace and power
Take a look at the pace in which Burrell runs this five-step slant. He’s hard off the line, before getting himself under control through his cut and finding the hole. This is well done, as it allows the QB’s read to materialize in this slant-bubble combo. Had Burrell not been patient out of his break, he would’ve run himself out of the passing window. Patience is a virtue; sadly, not many high school wide receivers possess it.
The second part of the play that’s impressive is the power with which he finishes. He runs through not one, not two, but three defenders on his way to the end zone. This is an excellent example of power and determination, and something you love to see from your guys. Some will question his long speed, but he seemingly never gets caught in the open field—again, that long stride is deceptive, leaving defenders to underestimate Burrell, which leads to poor angles.
2: Window shopping
What a perfect angle of this play. Here’s another example of pace and savvy at the WR position. Burrell reads the zone and finds the void, while creating a big target for his QB. Notice how he doesn’t round his routes; instead, he makes precise cuts and explodes out of his stance. Excellent route running and an ability to exploit zone coverage...remind you of any recent ’Nole wideouts? As a WR, getting your hips down and utilizing your arms when making cuts is a must, and Burrell shows that on tape. This is one reason we believe Burrell could see time as a slot WR in FSU’s offense. There’s a smoothness to Burrell’s game that you don’t always see from big-bodied receivers.
Burrell lined up inside at TE for his high school team as a junior to create mismatches. Is there a chance he could bulk up and see some time as a 3-back (what other teams call an “H-back”) at Florida State? Burrell’s a physical specimen already (confirmed 6’3 and 212 pounds), so it might be something to keep an eye on down the road, depending on the WR and TE depth charts. Either way, he shows he can work the middle of the field and be a problem, which is something FSU has sorely missed as of late. Efficient footwork helps Burrell shake the LB, leaving him open for a big play. Burrell also shows soft hands on a ball that led him up. He projects to be a very good blocker, as he’s shown a knack for using his body to shield defenders from the ball and has no problem mixing it up.
Often, college coaches become enamored with potential at the WR position. They see a raw prospect who oozes potential, but don’t possess the patience to bring prospects along at an optimal pace, or the coaching chops to refine the prospect into his best self. Some eventually hit that high ceiling, but many others do not- for every Kelvin Benjamin, there are many more Kenny O’Neals.
The beauty about Joshua Burrell is the coaches know exactly what they’re getting. Burrell’s a bulky, tough, physical wideout who knows how to find holes in coverage and run technical routes. He’s already built like a college receiver and will likely see early playing time if he learns the offense. He isn’t afraid to go over the middle, and he’s extremely tough to bring down with just one guy—Burrell’s the type of WR who runs over you before turning around to wink at you as he crosses the end zone, letting you know it’s going to be a long night, and you’ll feel it in the morning. Burrell will play an important role in the offense and could see time outside, as a slot, or even inside as a hybrid TE/H-back at times. He won’t be the headliner of this WR class, but Florida State fans will be happy he’s in Garnet and Gold once they see him hit the field.