Watching the draft from his mother's home in Escondido, California, Utah safety Terrell Burgess learned late Friday night his family wouldn't have to travel far to see him play in the NFL.
A Southern California native who grew up in San Diego, the No. 104 pick had his name called by the Rams. He was so overcome with emotion, though, that he had a hard time catching his family's initial reaction.
"Honestly, I didn't really get a chance to get everybody's reaction, I was crying so much," Burgess said. "But, I know that my mom's really excited that I get to stay home. My two sisters still live here in San Diego. My brother lives out of state, but I'm sure he'll come back home every time I have a home game to come watch the game. They're definitely very excited that they can just drive up and see me."
Escondido is about an 110 miles, or a 1 hour and 45 minute drive to SoFi Stadium, but it's not proximity alone that made Burgess familiar with the Rams.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic cancelling pro days, he had two formal meetings with the Rams: One at the Senior Bowl in January with a couple members of their coaching staff, the other with most of the defensive staff at the combine in Indianapolis in February. Post-cancellations, he also had a video call with the team.
Burgess also counts Rams safety and fellow Utah alum Eric Weddle among his mentors. The pair talked not long after Weddle's retirement, with Weddle giving an assist on pre-draft prep.
Weddle played with Burgess' defensive coordinator and safeties coach, Morgan Scalley, and still pays close enough attention to the program that he was able to provide insight on Burgess, according to Rams head coach Sean McVay.
"I think the biggest thing that (Weddle) said was just be patient and understand that everything's on God's plan of what happens," Burgess said. "Take it day-by-day and try not stress about it because everything happens for a reason and this is crazy. I think the biggest thing from him is, it's nice to have somebody that went to my school, went on to the league, is kind of from Southern California and be able to be kind of a mentor for me. So, it feels great."
Burgess gives new Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley a versatile new piece for his scheme as a player capable of playing safety or slot cornerback. He said he's comfortable playing all of the defensive back positions.
"Honestly, if someone feels like it's needed for me to play, I will play there," Burgess said.
For Burgess, being back close to home is a great feeling.
"I love San Diego, I love being in Southern California, so I'm glad that I get a chance to be able to stay here in California and contribute to a successful team," Burgess said.
Welcome to LA, Terrell Burgess! Meet the safety from Utah.