STANFORD, Calif. - Jesse Burkett didn’t know much about Stanford football three years ago.
An all-state offensive lineman from St. Augustine, Fla., the 6-foot-4, 285-pounder leaned on his father Bill, who played football at Brown, for recruiting advice.
“He was the guy who sent my film to Coach (Mike) Bloomgren and got me noticed,” said Burkett of Stanford’s associate head coach and Andrew Luck Director of Offense. “He’s definitely a go-to guy.”
Burkett was hooked on The Farm on his first visit.
“It really kind of confirmed what I thought,” said Burkett. “It’s got the best combination of athletics and academics. It’s a great place where it seems everybody loves being.”
Most of Stanford’s 23-member freshman class reported nearly two months ago for summer school and pre-season conditioning. For most, it took time to get their bearings.
“I’m definitely a lot better off than I was when I got here,” Burkett said. “I feel a lot more comfortable.”
Players received iPads and are still soaking up the playbook.
“It mostly digital,” he said. “There’s a lot to go through. We’ve got a bunch of downloads already installed, so we have to study those.”
Burkett’s great uncle, Mike, played for legendary coach Paul Brown at Massillon High in Ohio. He went on to play for Purdue and was drafted by the Green Bay Packers.
“It’s a pretty cool connection,” said Burkett.
Tough and versatile, Burkett started 37 games at Bartram Trail High School, mostly at tackle. He also played center on the basketball team and threw the shot put in track.
“I think one of my strong suits is my footwork,” Burkett said. “I’m pretty quick on my feet.”
While Burkett is excited to finally put on the pads and hit people, he’s in no rush to prove himself.
“I definitely have a lot to learn,” Burkett said. “I think it would be beneficial to learn the offense and get a lot stronger and just be ready to go next year.”
One of Burkett’s high school friends will enroll at Cal this fall, but doesn’t play football.
“That will be a good rivalry,” said Burkett. “I can still rub it in a little.”
Burkett has been impressed by the student-athletes and non-athletes he has met. Once the fall quarter starts in mid-September, the freshmen football players will leave their dorm and split up to different dorms around campus, a rarity for programs at other universities.
“This place is not just football,” Burkett said. “Everybody here is awesome. Everybody who has the privilege of coming here is going to do something special.”