Coming down to just 11 days left on before kick-off against North Dakota State, we’re left with a missing jersey as the spring roster doesn’t appear to include anyone designated jersey #11 – which makes sense, given that it’s the only jersey the program has ever retired. This morning we looked at the players that jersey retirement honored in Lynn Dickey and Steve Grogan, while this afternoon we focus on an overlooked defensive back for the Wildcats, sophomore Morgan Burns.
When I say that Burns is overlooked, I explicitly note that I’ve been guilty of overlooking him. When I did the 33 days left article, I saw that both Burns and John Hubert shared the number on the spring roster and didn’t even consider an article previewing both players. In fact, he’s listed as 3C on last year’s roster. However, Burns had the 18th most tackles for K-State last year with 11 while appearing in 12 games for the Wildcats. He led the team with 10 special teams tackles while also contributing a stop on defense.
Burns wasn’t a highly recruited player, but was ranked the 14th best prospect in the state coming out of high school in 2010 by Rivals. After grayshirting and then redshirting in 2011, he saw the field for the first time in 2012 and should see more time as part of the defensive unit in 2013. A solid athlete at Wichita Trinity Academy, he was a three-year all-league selection at both defensive back and running back. His junior and senior years he put together a 2,700 yard, 36 touchdown effort and demonstrated solid speed while also taking home state championships in the 100m, 200m, and 400m sprints.
All that speed fits on a 5’11″, 195 pound frame that K-State’s coaches decided was best suited for the defensive backfield, most likely at cornerback. Interestingly, Burns played on both squads during the spring game. He started for the second team during the first half, breaking up a pass to go along with three solo tackles and one assist. However, he was moved to the first team after halftime where he had another tackle for the Purple Squad.
I’m not aware of any injuries incurred during the game, and it’s interesting that Burns saw both sides. One thought is the coaching staff wanted to see how he faired defending the team’s top receivers but also wanted to get him time working with the starters in anticipation of an increased workload next year. He may have engaged in an earlier agreed-upon timeshare, or it could have been an impromptu decision. Leading up to the game, Burns commented on the situation, saying ”Corner is a new position for me because I played running back in high school. I had to start from scratch and coach (Tom) Hayes has helped me a lot to learn the fundamentals and techniques.” With multiple years to learn the intricacies of the position and a bunch of talent to lean on, he looks ready to provide solid coverage from the position over the next three years.