Read anything about Michigan Wolverines cornerback Ja’Den McBurrows, and the words “intelligent” and “high football IQ” are bound to be brought up — with good reason.
Coming out of the football powerhouse of St. Thomas Aquinas High School in south Florida, McBurrows’ high school highlight reel showcases the potential that this underrecruited defensive back has, especially on special teams.
In his junior year at Aquinas, he compiled four blocked punts and six interceptions. McBurrows also snagged three takeaways in his shortened senior season.
Although rated in the 500s nationally as a recruit, McBurrows received offers from big-time programs like Georgia, Alabama, Penn State, Ohio State and Michigan. Schools saw his potential as a defender, but I’d venture to guess his lower ranking is more of a result of his frame relative to his chosen position than his potential.
As a true freshman last season, McBurrows appeared in four games and compiled two tackles and one pass breakup. Unfortunately, he suffered a knee injury prior to the College Football Playoff semifinal against Georgia. He is continuing to recover, co-defensive coordinator Steve Clinkscale told reporters earlier this month, but by all accounts it seems like he is impressing his coach even though he isn’t 100% healthy yet.
“Ja’Den is like junior Clink coaching out there,” Clinkscale said. “I love Ja’Den. He’s really growing up a lot for us. He’ll stand on on sideline while I stand on the other sideline. He’ll help the young guys, make sure they’re lined up correctly and know their assignment and communicate. He has worked out a little bit with the training staff, not with us, and I think he’s right where he needs to be. I look forward to getting him back when he’s able to practice.”
McBurrows is only a redshirt freshman, so to hear these comments from a coach like Clinkscale is pretty telling. No one truly knows when McBurrows will be back on the football field, but he will likely fight to claim a role as a starter as soon as he’s physically able to.