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Rifle’s Burgess, Massey to play in college

Jeff Caspersen
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
contributed photoRifle High School seniors Jacob Massey, left, and Joe Burgess are set to play football collegiately. Massey will play at Mesa State College and Burgess is bound for McMurry University.
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RIFLE, Colorado – Rifle High School head football coach Ryan Sulkowski is always willing to work hard for players who work hard for him.

Joe Burgess and Jacob Massey fit that criteria, and then some.

Neither were strangers to the weight room. Nor were they averse to staying after practice to polish their game or brush up on Xs and Os.



So Sulkowski did what he could to help Burgess and Massey find collegiate homes. Not that he had to do all that much.

“Sometimes, with those types of kids, it doesn’t take any hard work on my end,” the first-year Bears coach said. “They’re so self-motivated. They’ll take care of their own business, athletically and academically.”



Burgess, a versatile player who lined up at quarterback, receiver, in the defensive backfield and even at punter for Rifle, is headed to McMurry University in Abilene, Texas.

Massey, a two-way lineman for the Bears, is bound for Mesa State College in Grand Junction.

Both signed letters of intent on Wednesday, college football’s National Signing Day.

At McMurry, Burgess will play for Sulkowski’s old coach, Hal Mumme. Sulkowski, a former offensive lineman, played for Mumme at Valdosta State.

McMurry’s early plan for Burgess is to use him as a slot receiver in Mumme’s spread offense.

“I think I’ll fit in pretty well in their system,” Burgess said. “They’re scouting me as a slot receiver, but, you know, I’ll play anywhere they want me to.”

Sulkowski steered Burgess in McMurry’s direction and an instant connection developed.

“I was talking with Coach Sulkowski and told him I want to play football somewhere,” Burgess said. “He showed me one, which was McMurry, and I kind of fell in love with it. I visited and knew it was the right place for me.”

Massey, listed at 6-foot-3 and 245 pounds in a Mesa State signing day press release, had a similar moment of affirmation while considering the Grand Junction school.

“I started talking to the coaches in the middle of the season and I went to a couple games,” he relayed. “It just felt right, so I went with them. The school is brand new. They’re re-doing everything. The program is really successful and I want to be part of something that’s progressing and doing better every year.”

Massey, who sat out his junior year of high school to address a family situation, said the Mavericks plan to use him on the defensive line.

Like Burgess, Massey was All-3A Western Slope League his senior year. Also like Burgess, he worked hard for the honor.

The minute he decided to return to the gridiron his senior year, Massey started playing catchup.

“As soon as I could get in the weight room, I did,” he said. “I started getting better and better to become more of an athlete for football.”

That work ethic, present in both Burgess and Massey, should propel them to great heights as they embark on a career in college ball.

“Both of these guys, once they get into the programs with McMurry and Mesa, they’re going to add so much more than just their athletic ability to those teams,” lauded Rifle Principal Todd Ellis, who has a background in coaching. “They’ll emerge as leaders. As representatives of their families and as representatives of Rifle, they will be great. I’m proud of them and look forward to seeing them in the future.”

jcaspersen@postindependent.com


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