For Tyreek Burwell, beating long odds has become a way of life.
The third-year tackle was one of only four undrafted rookies to earn a spot on the Chargers’ 53-man roster coming out of training camp in 2015. He’s gained valuable experience his first two seasons, appearing in 16 games.
Burwell is a raw talent. A native of Huntington Station, New York, he garnered limited attention as a prep at Walt Whitman High School, primarily because he played a number of different positions for the Wildcats. He ended up starting his college career at Division III SUNY-Cortland where he played tight end.
After two years at SUNY-Cortland, Burwell was eager to transfer to an FBS school, so he put together his own highlight tape and shipped it off to a handful of schools. Very few responded, but one that did was the University of Cincinnati, which offered Burwell an opportunity to walk on to the Bearcats’ football team. The only problem was that Burwell couldn’t afford the out-of-state tuition, so he took a year off from school and football and worked at a Cheesecake Factory restaurant in Long Island so he could sock away some extra cash to pay for his tuition. A year later in 2012, Burwell enrolled at Cincinnati and Bearcats coach Tommy Tubberville convinced him to shift from tight end to offensive line. Hesitant at first, Burwell obliged and added 25 pounds to his 270-pound frame. He ended up earning Scout Team Player of the Year honors in 2013 before earning playing time in 2014. That combined with an impressive Pro Day in which he repped 225 pounds on the bench press 30 times and posted a 4.97-second clocking in the 40-yard dash helped him earn an opportunity with the Chargers and now Burwell heads into his second NFL season with 11 pro games under his belt.
TRANSACTION HISTORY: Signed with Chargers May 12...waived Sept. 10...re-signed to practice squad, Sept. 12...signed to active roster, Sept. 30.
2016: Took over at left tackle for final offensive series Oct. 2 vs. New Orleans.
2015: NFL debut Oct. 4 in 30-27 win over Cleveland...saw action as extra tackle in goal-line offense for two plays, one of which was one-yard touchdown catch by John Phillips for 27-19 lead in fourth quarter...saw one snap at right guard on last play of third quarter Oct. 12 vs. Pittsburgh...saw first action of career at left tackle Nov. 1 at Baltimore when Chris Hairston left with injury...saw action at right tackle Dec. 6 vs. Denver for injured Joe Barksdale...took over at left tackle in OT Dec. 24 at Oakland...replaced Hairston at left tackle Jan. 3 at Denver...left game in third quarter with knee injury...returned late in Broncos contest to take over at left guard when injury to Joe Barksdale forced Kenny Wiggins to shift to right tackle.
COLLEGE: Played in 11 games with four starts at tackle as senior at Cincinnati in 2014...redshirted in 2013 due to NCAA transfer rules...spent 2011-12 seasons at SUNY-Cortland as tight end, catching one pass for touchdown in 2012...communications major.
PERSONAL: Born in Hempstead, New York...prepped at Whitman High in Huntington Station, N.Y.