All-State Linebacker Joe Burger to Join OSU as Preferred Walk-on in the Fall
By Tony Gerdeman
Urban Meyer signed five linebackers in the 2012 recruiting class, which was an indication of the sheer lack of numbers on the roster. Despite the large haul, however, that didn't mean the Buckeyes were done looking for linebackers
Cincinnati La Salle linebacker Joe Burger (6-2 229) had been recruited by Ohio State under Luke Fickell, and the Buckeyes kept in contact under Meyer as well. Despite never offering a scholarship to Burger, they did offer him a spot as a preferred walk-on, which meant that he wouldn't have to try out for the team.
On Sunday, he finally made his decision known, tweeting "Officially going to be an Ohio State Buckeye!"
Burger, rated a two-star prospect by Rivals, chose Ohio State over scholarship offers from Bowling Green, Buffalo and Miami (Ohio). He was also considering Harvard and Princeton, and had preferred walk-on spots promised by Notre Dame and Cincinnati.
He eventually whittled his decision down to Cincinnati and Ohio State, which some might have thought a bit of a surprise given that he was a Notre Dame legacy.
Burger's father, Bob, walked on at Notre Dame and eventually earned a scholarship, as did his brother Bobby. Clearly, this path of most resistance isn't new for the Burger family, and the easy way apparently isn't very interesting.
After all, if Burger was interested in the "easy way", he wouldn't be paying to go to Ohio State, hoping to earn playing time through his works. He also wouldn't carry a 3.92 GPA, or be the vice president of his school's National Honor Society, or be on the student council.
And certainly, Harvard wouldn't be in the conversation.
Burger, one of the captains of his football team, was named Division I All-State, finishing the 2011 season with 103 tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks and an interception.
In February, he was also the 2012 winner of Ohio's That's My Boy Award, which is presented by the National Football Foundation and the Southwest Ohio Football Coaches Association, and goes to one Cincinnati area football player per year.
The winner is chosen via a point-based system tallying his work in the classroom, in the community, and on the field.
"The That’s My Boy Award is the most prestigious award that a football player in Cincinnati could win because the winner truly represents the ultimate student athlete," La Salle head football coach Tom Grippa said at the time. "I am so proud that Joe Burger won the 2012 That’s My Boy Award."
"He earned it by being a first-team all-state linebacker, being an honor student who is fifth in his class, and he also has an impressive resume of leadership and service to LaSalle and the community.
"I believe that Joe’s intense desire to compete and win in every drill, practice, sprint and game in football at La Salle sets him apart from other student athletes. Joe has changed people’s lives by his service and sacrifice and he will leave La Salle as one of its best student athletes and champions."
Up next for Burger is a mission trip to Honduras, and then, eventually, he will begin his mission in Columbus. It won't be easy, but then that doesn't really seem like much of a prerequisite where the Burgers are concerned.
John McCallister's Take:
“He's a great kid, number one. He's big. He's athletic—he played basketball. He's maybe just a tad slow. He's got pretty good hips. He'll probably end up at outside linebacker.
"He's the kind of guy who is going to help your program. He's going to represent Ohio State very well. It was a good choice for him. He's a quality kid—a really good kid, and he's coming from a really good program. It's a good move for both.”
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