AUSTIN (KXAN) — Longhorns sophomore defensive end Ethan Burke didn’t decide to pursue college football until the middle of his senior year at Westlake High School, and he certainly didn’t think it was going to be at the University of Texas at Austin.

With four solo tackles and a sack in the fourth quarter against Alabama to help the Longhorns beat the Crimson Tide 34-24 on Saturday, Burke’s path to stay home and play at Texas was a long and winding one.

An All-American lacrosse player for the Chaps, Burke had verbally committed to Maryland for lacrosse until he also wanted to pursue football. Several schools swarmed to the 6-foot-7 Burke with scholarship offers, and he eventually gave a commitment to Michigan to play both sports.

Then, he got a call while he was in English class.

TUSCALOOSA, ALABAMA – SEPTEMBER 09: Ethan Burke #91 of the Texas Longhorns celebrates after tackling Jalen Milroe #4 of the Alabama Crimson Tide during the second quarter at Bryant-Denny Stadium on September 09, 2023 in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

It was Longhorns assistant coach AJ Milwee with a scholarship offer the day before the early signing period ended in mid-December 2021. It was the first time he talked to a Longhorns coach about playing for them, saying he texted “a few times” with defensive coordinator Pete Kwiatkowski but he “really didn’t get recruited here until the last signing day.” Burke said the conversation was short, mainly because he had to give a presentation in class.

He excused himself from class, saying, “I kinda have to take this.” He’s glad he did.

“I couldn’t stop smiling after it,” Burke said. “I was freaking out. I was super excited.”

He chatted with two of his high school coaches, Todd Dodge and Brian Vasek, about it and they told him to follow his gut. His gut said to stay home. He signed a letter of intent with the Longhorns the same day without taking an official visit, and he said the first time he went on campus in any recruiting capacity was for the spring game that year.

Burke didn’t play football until his freshman year of high school when he was living in San Diego, California. He said his mom didn’t want him to play when he was younger but came around to the idea after seeing him play a few times in high school.

“She was just being a mom,” he said. “She wanted the best for me.”

Giving up lacrosse still hurts, he said, and he was drawn to football because “there’s something about messing kids up,” he said.

“Those were some fun games my freshman year,” he said with a big smile.