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Klein Forest's TJ Burkhalter Jr.
TRENTON “TJ” BURKHALTER, JR. IS AS VERSATILE AS THEY COME.
The junior DE for Klein Forest has established himself as one of the program’s top competitors on the gridiron, having earned second-team, all- district honors in 2022.
Given all the college camps he’s attended, Burkhalter may have the chance to play at the next level, holding offers from Mississippi Valley State and Midwestern State.
While he hopes to hear from more colleges in the coming months, Burkhalter’s primary focus still remains at home.
“For me, I’m really more focused on the team right now,” he said. “I want to help us make it to the playoffs. With recruiting, if I do well during the season and get some offers, I’d be excited. But the team is the top priority right now.”
It’s no secret that the Klein Forest football program will look slightly different now that coach Darrick Vaughn hastaken the reins. However, Burkhalter feels that this will give him and his teammates the opportunity to thrive in a new system.
“We’re definitely a lot more focused,” said Burkhalter. “We lost a lot of players, which kind of hurts, but I definitely think that our team is coming together. Coach Vaughn is really big on discipline and attention to detail, and he’s trying to make sure we get the little things right. I think that will benefit us in the long run.”
When football ends, Burkhalter sheds the pads and prepares to enter the wrestling ring. In fact, he’s so adept in the ring that he was the individual district champion at 215-pounds a year ago.
No wonder he’s become a force off the edge.
“I think going back and forth with football and wrestling really helps with my stamina and physicality on the defensive line,” he said. “People don’t always realize the kind of conditioning you need for wrestling – you get worn out a lot quicker. So being trained that way year-round is incredibly valuable for me.”
What’s something that many people might not know about the Klein Forest junior ?
“I’m in FFA as well. I’m really big on livestock,” Burkhalter said. “I’ve shown steers for the past two years, and I’ve been working with FFA since the sixth grade. I actually showed at the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo and ended up winning $6,000.
“I definitely see that in my future, which is why I intend to major in something agriculture-wise once I go to college. I grew up around horses since some of my family would participate in rodeos, so it just feels right.”
Suffice it to say, whatever path Burkhalter chooses to take, the future is bright for this Golden Eagle.
KLEIN CAIN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN GIBSON PYLE IS “THAT” DUDE.
Standing at 6-feet 5-inches, it’s hard to miss Pyle when he steps onto the field, and he’s gotten plenty of recognition for his efforts.
The Nebraska-commit and All-American is looking forward to his final year at Cain.
Welcome to the 411, where we get a more in- depth look at Cain senior star Gibson Pyle.
VYPE: Talk about your tenure at Cain.
PYLE: “It’s been a great time here at Cain, starting as a sophomore. We’re definitely going for another district title and looking for an undefeated season. It took a lot of hard work to get here, but I’m proud and excited for this last ride.”
VYPE: What do you feel like you’ve improved on over the summer?
PYLE: “Definitely my overall strength, speed, and my knowledge of the game. I’ve talked with my coach about it and improving my football IQ enables me to play faster.”
VYPE: You’re also an All- American recipient and will play in the All-American game. What does that mean to you?
PYLE: “It means everything to me. I remember years back, watching the All- American Game with my Dad and saying, ‘I want to play in that one day’. To go out there and earn that invite, it’s a huge honor.”
VYPE: Talk about Nebraska. What did you love about it? How excited are you to go there?
PYLE: “Nebraska just feels like home. I took a bunch of visits to several schools and Nebraska stood out the most. There’s a home environment with what Coach [Matt] Rhule is doing there. It’s truly amazing. I think that they are going to shock the world this year.”
VYPE: Outside of football, what do you have interest in?
PYLE: “I like to spend time with my family and friends. My stepdad has a lake house, so I like to go up there to tube, water ski and spend time in the water. That’s something I really like to do.”
VYPE: When you’re watching football, who do you like to watch?
PYLE: “Quenton Nelson (Indianapolis Colts). He’s probably my favorite player. He’s just a mean offensive guard. Then, there’s Tyron Smith (Dallas Cowboys). As soon as I started playing O-Line, he was one guy I tried to model my game after.”
VYPE: Offensive linemen don’t really get all the love, but they’re so important to the game. What is it like having that behind-the-scenes type of workmanship?
PYLE: “There’s really no other position like it. There are five guys working together, and you’re only as strong as that weakest guy. So, it’s definitely an interesting position. I love everything about it. You may not get your name in the paper all the time or get the glory, but it’s a really fun position and it’s a brotherhood.”