Brandon Cruse, Reed Burckhardt find new NFL opportunities in 2022

Cruse will be an NFL umpire after most recently working in the Big 12 Conference, while Burckhardt moves from the Minnesota Vikings front office to the Denver Broncos.

Jan 6, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; General overall view of the NFL Shield logo at midfield during the NFC Wild Card playoff football game between the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Rams at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Photo courtesy of Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Two men with South Dakota connections have found new opportunities within the National Football League in 2022.

Brandon Cruse, of Rapid City, was hired as an on-field official, while Reed Burckhardt, a former quarterback at South Dakota State University, will be the director of player personnel for the Denver Broncos.

Cruse, who grew up in Pierre, officiated South Dakota high school contests before becoming a college official in the Big 12 Conference. On May 3, he was announced as one of 10 new on-field official hires for the 2022 season and is slated to be an umpire.

On Jan. 11, 2021, Cruse served as the head referee during the College Football Playoff National Championship contest featuring Alabama and Ohio State. Prior to the national title game, Cruse was the head official for the 2020 Rose Bowl (Oregon and Wisconsin) and 2018 Peach Bowl (Central Florida and Auburn).

Burckhardt was backup during his Jackrabbits career, which spanned from 2004 to 2007, but had since found his place in the Minnesota Vikings front office. Before news of his hire by the Broncos broke on May 11, the native of Russell, Minnesota, had been with the Vikings for 13 seasons, most recently as the director of pro scouting, a position he was promoted to prior to last season.


The move to Denver has Bruckhardt following former Vikings vice president of player personnel and assistant general manager George Paton, who made the move from Minneapolis to Denver to become the Broncos' general manager in 2021.

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