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Monday, February 18, 2013
Vanderlinden keeping close tabs on Burke

By Josh Moyer

Tyler Burke (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville) had to pause a few moments when asked just how often PSU assistant Ron Vanderlinden has driven out to his high school. He's lost count.

"He's been out here at least five times," Burke said, pausing again before amending the number. "Actually, maybe 10 times. He's been to about four games, and he's also been to school and practice a lot."

The linebacker doesn't yet hold a Penn State offer, but it's difficult to pinpoint a player who's received more attention without receiving one. Vanderlinden stood in Hershey's open-air press box in mid-December, his eyes following Burke in the state title game. He folded his arms and made comments to himself whenever Burke came up with a big hit -- which was pretty often in a 17-solo tackle performance.

Vanderlinden and Bill O'Brien again strolled through the hallways of Coatesville just last month to check in on the linebacker. The two spoke with his coach and were able to briefly chat with Burke for about two minutes.

Since then, Vanderlinden has told Burke he'd like to see him at Penn State's junior day this coming Saturday. Burke wants to go but, as the sixth man on a playoff basketball team, he's not yet sure if he'll be able to. If his team loses Tuesday, the season's over -- and he plans to to visit State College. If Coatesville wins, he isn't sure.

But, he said, he definitely wants to visit Happy Valley. Even if he didn't like the school, he feels he owes a trip to the veteran coach who's stopped by so many times.

"I'm really interested in Penn State, so I'd love to come out," he said. "But it would just show respect because, Coach Van, he's been here so many times. "

Burke called his basketball team his top priority right now, and he's had to turn down similar opportunities. Maryland, which has already offered him a scholarship, invited him to attend the Terrapins-Blue Devils basketball game -- but Burke had to cancel because his coach scheduled a practice ... which was later canceled itself.

As a result, he hasn't committed to attend any other junior days. He made Pitt's, which he enjoyed, but he was a little caught off guard when 50 other recruits showed up (he anticipated a dozen). He also thought he might grab an offer, but Paul Chryst took a flight to watch the Super Bowl -- so that didn't come to fruition, either.

But Pitt, Penn State and Maryland aren't the only schools after Burke's services. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound linebacker has also been in close contact with Stanford, whose linebacker coach has now visited his school three times. UMass and Rutgers also recently offered scholarships.

"I don't know if I was really surprised by that," Burke said of the offers, "but it was definitely nice."

Burke's stayed in touch with numerous assistants, but he hasn't spoke to many head coaches. So he was pretty happy when Vanderlinden decided to drop by with O'Brien. The dimple-chinned coach swore he was sticking with the Nittany Lions, and Burke said that was just what he wanted to hear.

He might not know if he'll be at PSU's junior day for at least a couple more days. But, even if he can't make it, he said his interest in Penn State remains high.

"I mean, obviously, it's pretty close and they're a big-time school," Burke said. "And, academically, they're pretty good. And their facilities, their weight room, is probably the biggest I've been in. Their coaches are all nice, too, so I'd love to go back out."