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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Coach | 2022 Notre Dame LB Target Sebastian Cheeks Brings "Rare Combination"

August 24, 2020

Mike Burzawa knew he had something a little different even before the Evanston Township High School head coach had the chance to work directly with Sebastian Cheeks‍.

“He’s got a rare combination of size, speed and physically, he’s so well-put together,” the coach says of the 2022 Illinois linebacker. “It was kind of amazing seeing him in eighth grade coming into Evanston. He looked like a man when he was coming into high school physically.”

Cheeks has developed even further through time in the weight room with Evanston’s strength and conditioning staff.

The 6-foot-2, 200-pounder played freshman ball his first year at Evanston and proved he was ready to make an immediate impact on varsity as a sophomore.

“His very first game, he had two pick-sixes and he blew up the mesh point in the backfield on like the one-yard line and somebody else jumped on the ball, so we scored another defensive touchdown,” says Burzawa, who joked afterward that Cheeks must have been upset he wasn’t getting to play offense.

Cheeks will get the chance to play running back this season, although he’ll have to wait until the spring as Illinois has already pushed high school football back.

“If and when we get to play ball this year, he’ll be a big contributor for the next two years on both sides of the ball,” says Burzawa.

“As a football player, I think he brings intelligence and toughness as well. He’s really a student of the game. He studies things. Everything he does, he’s serious. He has fun as well, but he’s got a lot of special tools and is very gifted, so the future is very bright for him.”

Off the field, the coach says Cheeks has been a leader since his arrival at the school.

“He does an outstanding job in the classroom, in the hallways,” says Burzawa. “He’s an awesome kid. He’s respectful. He cares about his teammates. He’s a deep thinker and thinks things through. He really wants to get an understanding.

“The joy of coaching high school football is watching them come in as freshmen and watching them leave as seniors and leave as men. Just watching all of the things that he does in his life and his interests, he’s really an amazing young man. Character-wise, he’s through the roof.”

Burzawa also points to Cheeks’ support circle.

“His mom and his dad have been outstanding and he does the right things,” he says.

Plenty of colleges have already seen enough from Cheeks, who added Notre Dame to an offer list last month that already included schools like Michigan, Wisconsin, Northwestern, Boston College, Iowa State, Maryland and Syracuse among others.

“We’ve been talking with Notre Dame since last fall,” says Burzawa. “When the offer came in, he was very excited. It’s kind of been a whirlwind.”

Cheeks even went down to South Bend for a game last season.

“Notre Dame plays a first-class brand of football and have an outstanding program,” his coach continues. “I know Sebastian was excited to receive an offer from Notre Dame.”

Even with so much uncertainty surrounding the recruiting process, Burzawa feels Cheeks is off to a good start.

“He’s in a good position to make visits this fall if it’s allowed down the line, where normally, it’s tough to get out for the weekends during the season,” the coach says, noting Cheeks does want to make more visits to get better feels for the campuses and coaching staffs.

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