SALT LAKE CITY — Yes and no. That may be the best response when it comes to whether former University of Utah safety Terrell Burgess burst onto the NFL draft scene.
Yes, the 6-foot-1, 202-pound defensive back wasn’t a starter until his senior year. However, as Utah’s strong safety last season he made 81 tackles (7.5 for loss) and had two fumble recoveries. The honorable mention All-Pac-12 selection went on to earn invites to the Senior Bowl and NFL Scouting Combine. Scouts have been impressed by his versatility.
“Terrell is like the football equivalent of a Swiss Army knife,” said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. “He’s able to do so many things and play so many positions.”
During his time with the Utes, Burgess saw time at cornerback, nickel back, free safety, strong safety, wide receiver and on all special teams units. Intelligence and an ability to learn quickly are other attributes of note.
“His ability to play multiple positions and do multiple things is why you have seen his value skyrocket,” said defensive coordinator Morgan Scalley. “That and he is one of the smartest football players that scouts will interview.
As for the no, Burgess didn’t come out of nowhere to succeed. He stuck with the process at Utah. He played in four games and made one tackle as a freshman in 2016.
“I just tried to keep my head on straight, do what I could, lean on my teammates and my coaches and then by the end I just showed what I can do,” Burgess said. “I knew I could do it.”
As a defensive back, Scalley noted that Burgess has the ability to play man-to-man coverage on slot receivers and defend big tight ends.
“He’s shown that ability,” Scalley said. “He can play in the box and play physical football and tackle, or he can play back in the post.”