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Notre Dame Football Recruiting

Film Don't Lie | Joshua Burnham

March 17, 2021

Things are rolling with defensive recruiting for Notre Dame and it doesn’t look like it’s stopping any time soon. Just when you think it might slow down, another recruit jumps in to keep the momentum going.

Marcus Freeman just kicked it into another gear after gaining a commitment from linebacker Joshua Burnham‍. He has the highest grade I’ve given to a linebacker commit for the Irish since I started grading players for ISD.

Coming in at #29 in the ISD Fab 50, Burnham is a top-three linebacker in this cycle with All-American potential.

Height: 6’4”

Weight: 215

Projected Position: Inside linebacker

ISD Grade: 96 (4-star, #29 in the ISD Fab 50)

National Average Grade: 94.3 (4-star)

What he does best:

Burnham is long and fast, but what I like about him the most is that he is decisive. He diagnoses things quickly and can play downhill because of it against the inside run.


Much more than just a great athlete, he’s a pure football player who can be violent. He’s frequently a knock back tackler who hits through ball carriers.


He wasn’t utilized as a blitzer often as a junior, but the flashes he showed as a blitzer as a sophomore are exciting. He’s twitchy and explodes into the backfield, even when he is starting from depth.


His range is impressive. He has the speed to be a sideline to sideline player and will be an asset against the perimeter run and passing game. He can close in a hurry.


Burnham will be a three-down player and his potential in coverage is as great as it is playing the run. His ball skills and recognition stand out.


Not only a star on defense, he plays running back and quarterback on offense. It highlights even more than the type of athlete he is.


What he needs to improve:

I think he does a solid job fighting through the trash and I really appreciate that his film isn’t only showcasing him being unblocked. In saying that, he can learn to use his length better to strike blockers and be quicker with block destruction.

Sometimes he shuffles too quickly instead of being patient. It’s a pretty common thing for young linebackers and once he is a bit more under control, his game will be better for it.

What’s his ceiling?

I believe he can develop into one of the best linebackers in college football. Players like him who have his measurables and are athletic enough to excel in all areas of the game are rare.

Whether it’s at Mike or Will, I see him as a player with all of the potential to not only be a multi-year starter, but make an impact early in his career. Burnham also could be a chess piece that can be moved around the board depending on game plan or scheme.

He’s exactly what programs are looking for in a modern day inside linebacker.

Who he could be:

Former Boise State linebacker Leighton Vander Esch

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