Wide Receiver Ready to Seize Opportunity

The Sun Devil coaches agonized over redshirting Rudy Burgess in 2003. After yesterday's scrimmage performance, one can understand why. When he wasn't excelling in the passing game, he was dazzling during punt returns. Burgess told DevilsDigest that he hopes his hard work and consistency will give him a lot of playing time on both offense and special teams.

"I think I played pretty good," Burgess commented on his 3 catches for 95 yards on Saturday. "It was a big improvement from last week. I am just going out there doing what I have to do." His 54-yard touchdown catch from Sam Keller may have awed those in attendance, but the redshirt freshman was very pragmatic in describing his big play. "On that play I just had a good release off the line. Nobody touched me so I just used my speed to get open and I outran everybody."

Some compare a player in his a redshirt year to a caged animal foaming to being released. While the receiver was anxious to contribute in 2003, he does realize the value of sitting on the sidelines. "At practice I am more focused compared to last year when I was in a learning situation," he commented. "Now that I learned, and done what I had to do to get on the field, I think I just have to progress from there." Burgess considers his pad level, gaining leverage on the corners, and speed cutting out of his breaks as his strong points. "I still have to work on a lot of technique, getting open against corners and safeties. I think I am doing good so far."

The question as to who will emerge as the second starting receiver opposite Derek Hagan is one that still remains unanswered as the Sun Devils end spring practice later this week. Burgess is very aware of this situation, and hopes that his speed and overall ability is the answer coaches and fans alike are seeking. "Right now I think it (second starting receiver role) is open to all of the receivers," commented Burgess. "It is just a matter of who goes out there and works the hardest. I have been working pretty hard so there is a good chance for me to step up and get that job."

"I hope to come out here and stretch the field," Burgess continued, "take a little pressure off of Hagan which is important because defenses are going to key off of him. I am hoping that I can be a second threat in the offense."

While Burgess may or may not be the one lining up opposite Hagan, he has left little doubt as to who should be the squad's #1 return guy on special teams. "That's one thing I wanted to work on," he stated. "I want to do that during the games and I just have to get better. So far I am doing pretty good out here, I just hope I can do it during the game…playing special teams is one thing that receivers take a lot of pride in because we want to be on the field at all times. If we have the ball in our hands we feel more comfortable."

When the wide receiver talks about goals for spring practice, he chooses to concentrate more on the offense's objectives rather than his own. "We are coming to the practices wanting to dominate the defense. We all try to stick together and try to help each other out. So far we have done a pretty good job of that, but we can still improve." Domination seems to be a fitting adjective to describe Burgess' play on Saturday. However, consistency is the vital adjective still missing to portray his play. Nevertheless, when his name is synonymous with steadiness, Rudy Burgess could be a virtual lock for a starting role at wide receiver and special teams. And all this without wasting even one year of eligibility…

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