Latest Team Rankings
Free Text Alerts
|ShopMobileRadio RSSRivals.com Yahoo! Sports|
|College Teams||High Schools|
September 15, 2011TULSA, Okla. (AP) - Tulsa's search for someone to fill the void left by suspended receiver Damaris Johnson has made a sudden star out of Bryan Burnham.
The redshirt junior who joined the Golden Hurricane as a defensive back and didn't catch a pass all last season after moving to receiver has turned into the top target early this season for quarterback G.J. Kinne.
Heading into Saturday night's game against No. 8 Oklahoma State (2-0), Burnham leads the Golden Hurricane (1-1) with 10 catches for 162 yards and three touchdowns. Tulsa needs every contribution it can get without Johnson, a second-team All-American last season and the NCAA's career record holder in all-purpose yards and kickoff returns who is suspended and charged with felony embezzlement.
"We needed someone to step up," said Burnham, who's from Moorestown, N.J. "I'm just trying to do my best."
Burnham's only stats coming into this season came as a defensive and special teams player. His claim to fame was a fumble recovery in the Golden Hurricane's 28-27 upset at Notre Dame last season, at least until a highlight-reel touchdown catch Saturday in a 31-3 win at Tulane.
Burnham reached back, tipped a 40-yard pass to himself at the Tulane 2-yard line and carried a defender across the goal line for his second score of the game.
"Ah, the catch," Burnham said with a smile. "I've heard a lot about that the last few days. It was just a designed play that let me use my legs a little bit and get downfield. (Kinne) put it up there for me and I just went up there and made the catch for him. (Juggling the ball) really wasn't in the plan, it just kind of happened. With that ball in the air, I just knew I was going to come down with it."
Burnham finished with seven catches for 94 yards in only the second start of his career. In Week 1 against top-ranked Oklahoma, he caught three passes for 68 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown reception.
Burnham initially signed with Tulsa as a defensive back but made the move to wide receiver in the fall of 2010 and played in 10 games last season. He caught two short passes before weaving between a couple defenders down the left sideline for Tulsa's first touchdown of the season against Oklahoma.
But it was the catch against Tulane that led to a steady stream of calls and text messages after it was shown on ESPN. Defensive end Cory Dorris asked Burnham at a news conference this week whether he was planning on taking "Touchdown" Trey Johnson's nickname from him.
"We'll see about that," Burnham said with a laugh.
Burnham said he won't allow himself to dwell on one particular play.
"I try not to think about it. I'm not about that," he said. "I'm more about the W than I am about my stats. If I have a good game, that's great. But I want the win.
"I try to not think about a lot of that stuff," he added. "It's hard not to think about because everyone wants to talk about it. But I just try to play as hard as I can every day. It's great, I'm getting so much support from all my family and friends. It's really awesome to get that every day. It keeps me going, keeps me working hard."
With limited time at receiver since he played the position in high school, Burnham is still learning to use his body to shield defenders. To that end, he has loaded up on tape of his favorite pro receivers: Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals and former NFL great Jerry Rice of the San Francisco 49ers.
"Just like any young receiver, I grew up watching Jerry Rice," said Burnham, whose father, Lem, played three seasons for the Philadelphia Eagles in the late 1970s. "He was the hardest working wide receiver, always going full speed. That's who I idolized. A receiver that's playing today who reminds me of Rice is Larry Fitzgerald. I'm always watching film on them to see how they play the game.
"I look for every little detail from the way they run their routes, to their footwork, the way they use their arms and how they use their bodies. I try to soak up everything I see."
He said he has also studied in-state rival Justin Blackmon, an All-American last season who will be on the opposite sideline for Oklahoma State on Saturday.
"He really uses his God-given talents to the best of his abilities," Burnham said. "I've watched him a little bit. I want to use my body to the best of my ability like he does.
"I'm getting there. It's only my second start. There are things I need to iron out but I'm feeling really comfortable in there with G.J. We're gaining a lot of confidence together."
That's just fine with first-year Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship.
"Absolutely we want him to learn how use that (body)," Blankenship said. "If he can learn to use that body, he can be a good receiver. He's a guy who is just figuring it out. It's coming pretty fast to him."
Notre Dame NEWS