Prep Football

Prairie TE Gabe Burkle sees football recruiting heat up despite this weird time, and despite few receptions

Iowa State, Michigan State have offered the sophomore

Cedar Rapids Prairie's Gabe Burkle (86) runs in a touchdown on a 46-yard pass play from quarterback Hunter Williams duri
Cedar Rapids Prairie's Gabe Burkle (86) runs in a touchdown on a 46-yard pass play from quarterback Hunter Williams during the first quarter of their game at Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids on Friday, Sept. 20, 2019. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

CEDAR RAPIDS — Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out the vagaries of big-time college football recruiting.

Gabe Burkle caught six passes as a tight end last season for Cedar Rapids Prairie. That’s not six touchdown passes, but six passes overall.

This COVID-19 pandemic has grinded sports to a complete halt at the moment. Other than UFC.

Yet despite those former and latter things, you won’t find a high school player in the state of Iowa whose recruiting is gaining helium right now more than Burkle’s.

“At first, it did surprise me,” said Burkle, a sophomore. “But then the more I thought about it, every coach in the nation is sitting at their house right now and bored out of their minds. (They’re) just checking everyone’s Hudl account and stuff like that. So, yeah, it was kind of weird at first. But I know they have a lot more time on their hands at the moment to break down players’ games that they are recruiting.”

Iowa State officially offered Burkle a couple of weeks ago, with Michigan State following suit last week. Kansas State and Missouri have talked to him recently, with another 20 schools following him on Twitter.

Things have heated up, again, at a very weird time.

“I’m thankful for it all,” Burkle said. “For every school that contacts me through Twitter or through phone calls or through (Prairie) Coach (Mark Bliss), I’m definitely very thankful. It’s all online, of course, so I’m not really getting to know them, talk to them face to face. We’re (trying to) do that over phone calls, if that’s really possible ... It’s more weird than talking face to face.”

Now let’s explain why Burkle’s name is a hot one.

It’s his size (6-foot-7 and 240 pounds) and brains (a 4.0 grade per average). It’s his athleticism (he also is a very good basketball player, with good feet).

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It’s his youth. The fact that he plays in a unique, run-oriented, single-wing offense helps explain the lack of receptions.

“It also helps me showcase my blocking skills,” he pointed out. “Not every tight end is a great blocker. (The single-wing) allows me to definitely work on my blocking a lot more and showcase it off, while getting some catches, too.”

With his height and feet, you could see Burkle perhaps sliding over to an offensive tackle position in college, though he said Iowa State and Michigan State have offered him as a tight end, and Kansas State and Missouri also are recruiting him at that position.

He camped last summer at Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and Wisconsin and was planning on attending several camps this summer. No one knows if any actually will be held, considering the current health crisis in this country.

“I know we for sure want to go,” Burkle said. “We have signed up for a ton of camps, though I know some have been postponed. If they come back open, I will definitely go to camps this summer.”

In the meantime, he’s doing what virtually every high school athlete in the state is doing right now: working out at home and doing school work online Unlike virtually every high school athlete in the state right now, he’s communicating with a lot of FBS programs.

And getting offers from them.

“A lot of coaches are looking at Hudl. That’s really where they are breaking down my game,” Burkle said. “They’re watching the whole game we’re playing, seeing my highlight film, seeing what I do well, what I need to work on. That’s where they are getting their intel from.”

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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