The University of Utah has developed a reputation for turning out starting caliber secondary players at the NFL, and Terrell Burgess could be the next in line to join that group.

Burgess is headed into his second NFL season with the Los Angeles Rams after the team drafted him in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft, and the former Ute was recently projected to be a starter in the 2021 season by NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal.

Can Burgess, coming off an injury, live up to those expectations in his sophomore pro campaign? 

Getting back on the field

The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue recently caught up with Burgess to discuss, among other things, his return from a broken ankle suffered during Week 7 of the 2020 season. 

Burgess had eight tackles and a pass deflection last season before the injury while working primarily on special teams. He expects to be back to 100% for training camp when the Rams return to the field in late July in Irvine, California.

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“I feel like I’ll never take for granted walking again,” Burgess told Rodrigue. “That was a long process … I didn’t realize how long I was not even going to be able to bear any weight. That was the longest I’ve ever sat out. … I’m definitely going to be a little nervous in the beginning. But I’ll be ready, for sure.”

Terrell Burgess competing for extensive playing time

Los Angeles has a young safety group, with all nine safeties on the roster in their third year or less in the NFL. With safety John Johnson, who started 48 games over the past four seasons for the Rams, signing with the Cleveland Browns this offseason, there is a starting position opposite second-year man Jordan Fuller to be filled. Both Burgess and Taylor Rapp are expected to be first in line to man that starting spot.

“He’s just a national treasure that you can’t get a full depiction of him unless you meet him and get to know him. He’s just a funny guy, fun-loving, says how he feels. … We love him to death.” — Rams safety Nick Scott

Burgess also played some nickel back for the Utes, and could help fill in for another defender, cornerback Troy Hill, who also signed with the Browns this offseason.  

The team’s star cornerback, All-Pro Jalen Ramsey, recently gave the safety group a vote of confidence on social media, and included Burgess in the shoutout.

Burgess’ positive attitude makes an impact

The 5-foot-11, 202-pound Burgess is known for his positive attitude. When the Rams’ social media team shared a video of Burgess hamming it up for the camera on his way out to the practice field in early June, cornerback David Long Jr. called him a “national treasure.”

Third-year safety Nick Scott backed up that description about Burgess during an episode of the Rams Revealed podcast earlier this month, saying, “He’s just a national treasure that you can’t get a full depiction of him unless you meet him and get to know him. He’s just a funny guy, fun-loving, says how he feels. … We love him to death.”

Fuller, who was taken three rounds later than Burgess in last year’s draft, explains why Burgess’ positive energy makes him “great to be around.”

“He’s just one of the most supportive people, one of the most positive people you’ll come around,” Fuller told Rodrigue. “It wasn’t surprising to me, when he got hurt, that he still had a smile on his face and was still attacking every day. … That’s what I love about him, and that’s what everybody loves about him. He’s always happy, and he’s great to be around.”