Commentary

Brian burns opponents when he touches the ball

Updated: February 24, 2009, 4:26 PM ET
By Mike Loveday | ESPNRISE.com

He led Riverdale Baptist (Upper Marlboro, Md.) in yards per touch and had his best performances in the team's biggest games of the season, but the fact that Brian Burns was only a junior is the best news for head coach Bob Shields.

Brian Burns

Owens

Position:Athlete
Team:Riverdale Baptist Crusaders


2008 Season Stats
Att Yds TD Avg Rec. Yds
42 402 1 9.57 11 218

The 6-foot, 170-pound Burns played multiple positions for the Crusaders last season -- seeing time at running back, receiver, cornerback and safety. The junior averaged more than 9 yards per carry and more than 19 yards per reception on offense.

"He works well in small spaces, which allows him to break tackles and get through defenses and get one-on-one with a kid his size. And he usually wins that," Shields said.

Burns rushed for 402 yards, had 218 receiving yards and recorded 30 tackles on defense, but his best performances came in the National Association of Christian Athletes (NACA) tournament held in Dayton, Tenn.

In the team's semifinal game against Acadiana Prep (Opelousas, La.) Burns had 179 total yards and a touchdown on offense and recorded three interceptions on defense. Riverdale won the game 21-20.

In the championship game against Christ Prep Academy (Kansas, City, Kan.) Burns carried the ball 11 times for 123 yards to help the Crusaders win the championship 23-7.

Shields plans to get Burns the ball even more during his senior year to take advantage of his playmaking ability. And Shields may know that ability better than anyone else -- Burns has been a part of the Riverdale Baptist program since he was in sixth grade.

"We identified him early on that he was a kid that was really quick and fast. But it's tough to project in a sixth grader. Now's he's gotten immensely stronger and faster. It's been a joy to watch progress through the program," Shields said. "He has what I call the perfect storm. He's got really long legs, big hands and a very good wingspan. In addition to that he runs a 4.5 40. He's an extremely hard worker in the weight room and an extremely hard worker in the classroom."

Shields added that Burns has natural football instincts and vision that set him apart from other players.

Those abilities, which have helped him pick off 13 passes over the past two seasons, are getting Burns interest from several Football Bowl Subdivision programs.

"Brian is now getting more D-I interest than anybody that we've had at the school for a very long time," Shields said.

Maryland, Penn State and Boston College have all expressed interest in the junior.

While he holds no official offers to date, Burns will be making the rounds during the spring and summer -- attending the Nike Combines in Baltimore and Charlottesville (Va.) and one-day camps at Maryland, Penn State and Boston College.

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Mike Loveday covers high school sports for ESPNRISE.com. Mike can be reached at Michael.Loveday@espn.com