The 6-5, 275-pound Chandler Burden verbally committed to the Wildcats on Monday night. He also had scholarship offers Cincinnati, Akron, Ohio University and Buffalo. He also had been contacted by Connecticut, Iowa, Miami (Ohio), Michigan, Ohio State and Tennessee.
“Kentucky is really close to where I live, and I have a lot of family in Lexington already,” said Burden on Wednesday. “That did make a difference in my decision. I have aunts, uncles and grandparents all there. They all wanted me to go to UK so they could see my games.
“My mom is originally from Kentucky, but my family in Lexington really talks about Kentucky. That just made me like UK even more.”
Burden says knowing he will play against Southeastern Conference competition also worked in UK’s favor.
“Playing in the SEC obviously is a plus. When you play for Kentucky, you get to play against Tennessee, Florida, LSU, Georgia and a lot of great team. Almost every week you are going against somebody that is really good. That challenge motivates me.”
Burden also noticed the way head coach Rich Brooks constantly puts an emphasis on offensive line play as a key to his team’s success.
“He seems to appreciate linemen a lot,” Burden said. “That’s important when you are looking for a school.”
Burden didn’t attend UK’s summer camp after sending the coaches his highlight video. However, he did make a trip to the Kentucky campus July 24. He didn’t get to see many players, but he did like the facilities as well as the overall coaching staff.
“I didn’t want to go where the coaching staff would be real arrogant just because they had won a lot of games or been in the NFL,” Burden said. “I want to be friends with my coaches, and I think I can do that at Kentucky.”
Burden was recruited by assistant coach Chuck Smith and made the call to tell him he was committing to UK.
“I’ve only told a couple of people up here so far, but they are happy. Coach Smith was very happy when I told him and said coach Brooks would be, too,” Burden said.
Bob Lichtenfels, regional recruiting manager for Scout.com, saw the LaSalle High School linemen at a combine in April and was impressed.
“He is a very solid 270 pounds and has outstanding feet. He looks like an athlete playing on the defensive line. Burden got after it in the one-on-ones and just narrowly lost the MVP honors to his teammate, DeVier Posey,” Lichtenfels wrote.
Burden, who says he has been timed in the 40-yard dash in 4.85 seconds, lists speed and strength as his major assets. He started on offense last year and was used on defense the final three games. This year he expects to go both ways all season.
“I am an offensive lineman, but I am really fast like a defensive lineman, so I am going to play defense this year. I feel like I am really quick off the ball,” Burden said. “I like playing both offense and defense, especially since we play in a good league.
“But I know offense is where I am going to be starting out at Kentucky and that’s where I feel I am really the best.”