High-SchoolFootball: Greenbrier High School

Elite 11 MVP Burcham Tears ACL

November, 8, 2011
Neal Burcham’s high school football career is over.

The Greenbrier (Greenbrier, Ark.) senior quarterback injured his right knee in the Panthers’ season finale against Vilonia (Vilonia, Ark.) on Thursday. Burcham feared the worst when we talked to him the day after the game.

“I’m pretty nervous about it,” he said.

Unfortunately, his fear was realized after an MRI on Monday revealed a complete ACL tear, ending his high school football season. Greenbrier is scheduled to play Arkadelphia (Arkadelphia, Ark.) in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs this weekend.

Burcham confirmed the injury via text this morning.

“Just found out I have a torn ACL,” he said.

Greenbrier athletic director Stephen Wood and football coach Randy Tribble also confirmed the injury over email this morning. Wood noted that Burcham, who was an All-State basketball selection as a junior, would miss his entire basketball season as well.

Burcham threw for 42 touchdowns in 10 games as a senior and finished his career with 107 touchdown passes in three seasons. Burcham, who was one of three MVPs at the Elite 11 finals in July, committed to SMU on Nov. 1. He’s rated the nation’s No. 20 quarterback by ESPNU.

Get Familiar: Neal Burcham

November, 7, 2011
Neal BurchamTom Hauck/ESPNHSGreenbrier (Greenbrier, Ark.) quarterback Neal Burcham committed to SMU Tuesday.
Neal Burcham can finally exhale.

On Tuesday, the Greenbrier (Greenbrier, Ark.) senior quarterback committed to Southern Methodist, a program that's become a strong team again thanks in large part to coach June Jones. Burcham picked the Mustangs over Cincinnati, Arkansas State and Central Arkansas.

Yet for a while, there weren’t any offers for the 6-foot-2, 185-pounder despite having passed for a combined 6,290 yards and 65 touchdowns his sophomore and junior seasons. Finally, in June, Burcham picked up an offer from Central Arkansas.

But that was far from his biggest accomplishment over the summer. In July, he proved he belonged among the nation’s top quarterbacks by snagging co-MVP honors at the Elite 11 finals, the country’s premier high school quarterback competition. At Elite 11, Burcham earned plenty of praise from Elite 11 coach and ESPN analyst Trent Dilfer, who quarterbacked the Baltimore Ravens to a Super Bowl title, and he also gained a ton of confidence.

Burcham brought that confidence with him into his senior season and it showed as he threw for 42 touchdowns in 10 regular season games, including a state-record tying eight against Siloam Springs (Siloam Springs, Ark.). Now rated the nation’s No. 20 quarterback by ESPNU, Burcham hopes he can continue to showcase his talents at SMU.

With his college decision behind him, Burcham took a few minutes to reflect on his whirlwind senior season. Last week, Burcham and the Panthers lost to Vilonia (Vilonia, Ark.) in the regular season finale, a game Burcham had to leave early after injuring his right knee.

According to Greenbrier athletic director Stephen Wood and Greenbrier football coach Randy Tribble, Burcham will have an MRI on the knee today and the results won't be known until Tuesday.

"I'm pretty nervous about it," says Burcham.

If healthy, Burcham will lead the Panthers against Arkadelphia (Arkadelphia, Ark.) in the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs this weekend.

Get Familiar with this strong-armed signal-caller.

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