November 13, 2008

Rebels in the mix for Texas four-star ATH

Ole Miss got in early on Texas all-purpose back Rex Burkhead, a four-star ranked prospect who has offers from many of the top programs in country and offered him a scholarship last April.

At the time, Burkhead told that he planned to take an unofficial visit to Ole Miss. Spring and summer came and went, and as Burkhead continued to pick up offers, he never showed up at Ole Miss.

Things have changed some for Burkead since last summer. Perhaps the biggest event was his showing at a combine.

"Rex went to the combine and thought he'd be running the 40-yard dash indoors on turf," Rick Burkhead said on Wednesday evening. "It ended up that the 40 was conducted outside and Rex ran it in tennis shoes. He slipped to one knee on one attempt and went down on both knees on the second one, and still ran like a 4.8 on one and 4.7 on the other one."

Unfortunately, college recruiters most often look at the numbers on recruiting sites and not for explanations.

Burkhead did get some vindication - after having a 4.82 recorded as his 40-time in that combine, he turned in a 4.46 40-yard dash at the Fort Worth NIKE camp, where he was officially taped and measured at 5-foot-11, 190 pounds.

While Burkhead has no shortage of offers, the performance may have affected his recruitment by the likes of Texas and Oklahoma. Burkhead said last spring that if either of those two schools offered, that's were he'd likely end up. So far, neither have.

However, the absence of those two schools have Burkhead's recruitment in somewhat of a frenzy - with in-state schools like Texas A&M and Texas Tech very much in play and schools like Ole Miss and Nebraska trying to pry him out of the Lone Star state.

In fact, Burkhead has received so much attention lately, he's now refusing to accept calls from recruiters and reporters, instead, just concentrating on his high school playoffs.

While Burkhead said last summer that he'd like to make a decision before his senior season, that too has changed and it's likely he'll be a closer to signing day decision.

"He's taken an official to Nebraska, but doesn't have anything else planned, but if the playoffs allow - depending how far they go - he wants to take all five of his official visits," Rick Burkhead said.

Will that include one to Ole Miss?

"Every time Rex names off the name of his top four or five schools, Ole Miss is always mentioned," Burkhead said. "So, yes, I think Ole Miss is definitely a possibility, we're interested in getting out there and seeing it for ourselves. There's some players from the Plano area on the Ole Miss roster and we have friends who have kids at Ole Miss, we've heard a lot of good things about it."

While it might not have made the headlines, Ole Miss special teams coordinator James Shibest, who recruits portions of Texas for Ole Miss, evidently has made Burkhead one of his major recruiting targets.

"Coach Shibest calls in regularly and stays in contact," Rick Burkhead said. "I'll just say this about him, he's an experienced recruiter."

The elder Burkhead should know - he played at Eastern Kentucky as a fullback and went on to try for two years to latch on to an NFL team via free agency - he spent a year with the Dolphins and a year with the Eagles before settling in on a career outside of football.

Rick Burkhead knows that his recruitment was hardly anything compared to his son's situation.

"This is kind of Rex's show," he said in a previous interview on "I'm kind of collecting information. I try to schedule stuff for him. He said that he wanted to wait until the season was over and then he'll make a decision. He has been real focused on the season. It's just about where he needs to be mentally. I've given him the most advice that I can. As far as anything else, we haven't discussed it yet because it got to the point where we couldn't do official visits during the season."

Two key factors could impact where Burkhead ends up - the competition and the position.

Burkhead prefers to play running back although several schools are recruiting him as a safety or linebacker.

Through nine games, he amassed 1,324 yards, a 6.8-yard average with 21 touchdowns this season and caught 27 passes. He also plays on special teams in punt protection and on returns that includes a kickoff and punt return for touchdowns this season.

"A comparison to Peyton Hillis would be a fair comparison," Rick Burkhead said - a reference the Houston Nutt coached fullback who is now with the Denver Broncos.

As far as competition, Burkhead and his father realize competition is going to be stiff at any school - Big XII or SEC - or elsewhere. However, he just wants his son to be given a fair shot, and if he's the best player, to see the field and to help his team.

So, is Ole Miss a possible destination for Burkhead?

"Definitely," said Rick Burkhead. "But we need to take a visit and look at all the factors and decide what's best for Rex."

...More... To continue reading this article you must be a member. Sign Up Now!