BY DREW CHAMPLIN | email@example.com
Burks, who said he is now 5-foot-8 and 196 pounds, scored two touchdowns in Saturday’s scrimmage.
One was on a screen pass from Deon Anthony, taking it 42 yards to the end zone. The other came when he worked with the first team offense, scoring from a yard out.
“He’s putting some pressure on some guys and we’ll just have to see how it plays out,” Troy offensive coordinator Kenny Edenfield said.
Burks knew what Troy had when he committed – four senior running backs, a freshman who redshirted last season and a pair of walk-ons with experience in the system. That hasn’t slowed him from showing what he can do with the ball in his hands.
“My mindset was to come in here and give my best because I knew when they leave, there was going to be a role for me,” Burks said. “I wanted to let the coaches know what I could do. I didn’t worry about who else was here.”
Burks was the star of the show for Class 3A Daleville High School, located less than an hour from Troy. He ran for 411 yards and seven touchdowns in one game as a senior. He earned Dothan Eagle Super 12 honors last year as well.
He found that college defenses offer much more of a challenge, but has adjusted thanks to a summer where he put on 10 pounds of muscle and quickly learned the playbook.
“In high school, I might have been the fastest dude on the field,” Burks said. “In college, everybody’s fast. It’s how you use your speed.”
Running backs coach Jeff Beckles said his unit has different things they are good at. Burks said he’s best at sweeps and catching screens. From there, a big play is bound to happen.
“He’s definitely caught the attention of our offensive staff,” Beckles said. “When he sees the hole, he has a burst that’s unbelievable. He’s a guy we feel comfortable throwing the ball to out of the backfield. He’s also hard to bring down.”
Edenfield also complimented Burks’ explosiveness and said the staff isn’t big on redshirting players, and that Burks will likely be on the travel squad and be in line for some carries this year.
The Trojans have four seniors returning – three of which are the top returning rushers. Shawn Southward (556 yards, 4 TDs) and D.J. Taylor (367 yards, 6 TDs) are expected to get the most carries. Chris Anderson (217 yards) returned to camp Friday after dealing with personal issues at home and he can also play slot receiver.
T.J. Mitchell, along with Anderson, will help out on special teams. Mitchell has played sparingly over his career. Junior Khary Franklin moved from receiver this spring and has shown he can play the position. Junior Jarod Lee, a walk-on, is a candidate to get playing time as a blocking back. Sophomore Brian Exley, from Geneva County, is a walk-on who has been impressive in practices and will join the team Wednesday when school starts.
Daron White, a redshirt freshman from Jacksonville, is also considered as a feature back for the future along with Burks.
It’s certainly a good problem for Beckles to have.
“The one thing about them they all understand is that it’s a full backfield,” Beckles said. “They really pull for each other when they’re in there. There’s no animosity when someone else is doing well. That room treats each other like family.”