DE Harley Burke strength trains to gain weight and explosiveness

Leo Hayes Lion defensive lineman, Harley Burke, is returning to Leo Hayes High School in the North side of Fredericton for a fifth year of high school. The 6’5, lean 290 pound seventeen year old doesn’t turn 18 until November and so has one more year of eligibility. Burke decided to do a victory lap so he could take courses he needs to study Kinesiology, and it of course it allowed for one more year of high school ball.

Preparing for this season Burke has been lifting with focus on endurance and power. Burke strategically alters work outs to push his max lifts with high rep exercises in hopes of gaining power and muscular endurance. The added strength will already give offensive linemen nightmares, but with this Burke hopes to push 300lbs on the scale by next fall.  Day’s away from camp Burke has noticed gains in and out of the gym.

“I’m lifting as much as I can and eating everything in sight. I want to be heavier because I find having the extra weight, and being able to move around is an advantage”

“I’m a decent speed, I can move if I can get to it,” said Burke (middle).

Aware weighing 300-pounds could mean losing a step, Burke isn’t concerned. Athletically lean, Burke is quick, explosive and versatile. Coaches have used him at defensive end, but most often among the interior of the line. Focusing on improving his first steps and coming out of his stance, Burke’s preferred shedding technique is the push pull, at times with an added rip move.

Although playing with the Lions program in grades 10 and 11, Burke hadn’t been used on the O-line until his senior season after coaches saw his potential in practice. Impressed with what they saw Burke earned the opportunity to start on the D-line and as the teams right tackle.

The Lions netted over 3000 yards total offence last season, 1600 of which thru the air, exposing Burke to an equal amount of pass and run blocking. Unlike many linemen who play both ways Burke found the O-line easier than D-line.

“I found it a lot easier, I found that once you get in front of your guy you just block him and that’s it. DL you have to push, and get your guy out of the way then get to the ball”

Not having a preference of positions, Burke’s favourite part of playing is the pump he gets when he beats a good lineman, or two, and makes a play in the backfield. Referred to as a ‘thrill’ when this happens, Burke’s most memorable play of 2016 was in the final when after beating  Tantramar Titan’s guard, Ryan Cadman, he stopped CFC100 Aidan O’Neal on a solo backfield tackle.

“It felt beautiful, getting thru that line, they worked so well together, I was proud I got thru them and cleanly took O’Neal out,” recalled Burke.

The Lions season opens on September 8th at home against the 2 time champion Tantramar Titans. A rematch of the 2016 final, where the Titans overcame a ten point half time deficit winning the Provincial crown and ending the Lions perfect season. Not blinded with revenge, but hungry to play them again, Burke is focusing on the season, not one game.

“I’m pretty much looking forward to all the games,” Burke reflected maturely, “looking around most of the teams are the same level as us, rebuilding, I’m looking forward now to see where we can go with this team.”

With the loss of 6-foot-8 defensive end,  Brendan Seymour, concerns Burke that the team will miss his physical presence, but also the leadership Seymour had brought to the defensive unit. Not necessarily a small guy, Burke realizes his frame will be filling it’s share of gaps, and he is planning on stepping into his role as one of the new leaders.

“I don’t plan on being the cocky person, I’ll be doing my part while everyone else does theres, more just doing what I’ve got to do,” explained Burke.

Asked if he has any concerns about the team, Burke shared his concern for the rookie class and the difficult transition from junior to senior Varsity.

“I’m worried about the guys moving up, some are saying it’s going to be nothing, then it’s going to hit them and they’ll realize it’s a lot more than they thought, so they need to get out of that mindset and be prepared for it,” he said.

Beyond this season, Burke is aware of the drastic jump in expectations with a University program. Unsure of where he want’s to study, Burke would consider all options as they present themselves. Two hours west of the Metro Moncton area where six of nine of the provincial teams are based, Fredericton players hadn’t seen an equal share of recruiting until 2016 when the western conference teams had regular season games in the Moncton area. When Burke and the Lions played L’Odysee last fall, people took note. Last season, when the Lions played a regular season game in Moncton, recruiters started reaching out to the athletic 290 pounder.

“I want to keep playing, that’s the dream; to keep it going. After playing L’Odysey in Moncton I was approached by Ottawa, St. FX and SMU. I’ll go where ever it takes me, I’m keeping an open mind and would go wherever I can do the best I can do.”

Harley Burke (#57)
Defensive lineman
6’5, 290lbs

Teams: Leo Hayes Lions
Official visits: none
Unofficial visits: none
Considerations: open
Class: 2018




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