Burgess Poised for Memorable Senior Season

Getting back into the swing of things won't be a problem for ASU's now senior wide receiver Rudy Burgess. He displayed his speed, hands, and workmanship at Friday night's practice at the Kajikawa Practice Facility in Tempe. Being the wide receiver with the highest seniority will be a new role for the Sun Devils' number 3, but it is a role that he is looking forward to take on.

"I'm going to have to show the younger guys how the system works," he said. Burgess added that it can be slow-going at first when exposed to the Tempe college environment, but once the team gets up to camp Tontozona next week, some camaraderie will start building. "Yeah there is real football bonding that happens when we're at camp (Tontozona) and we're all alone up there. It's kind of like (the movie) "Remember The Titans," Rudy said laughingly.

The wide receiver is also the most experienced player at his position and he knows what it is going to take to be a leader this season. "I'm going to have to lead by example," he commented about his younger teammates. "I need to be the one making plays, finishing plays on the field for them to see." That should not be too difficult for a player, who in only four starts at wide receiver in 2006, averaged 16.6 yards per reception, and 23.5 yards per kickoff return. He said that he didn't have any real advice for the newcomers though, about dealing with reporters like me getting in their faces after practices.

Burgess has been plagued by various injuries in 2006, but claimed that these days he does feel 100% healthy. "Right now I'm just getting my cuts sharpened my and speed back," he said. "My ankle is not bothering me at all because of the injuries. I'm just getting loose and used to the heat again." The senior may have to also get used to practicing in the rain at Tontozona, where it is predicted to storm every day for the next coming month.

Coach Erickson has made it clear that he wants Rudy to concentrate on his wide receiver skills and not to worry about also being a cornerback like he was last season. "Coach knows the cornerbacks are young," Rudy said, "but the receivers are also young and he wants me as a leader here." Although Rudy started two games in 2006 at cornerback he noted that "Coach thinks I'm more of a value to the team where I'm at now," he said.

Questions have come up concerning distractions that could be on Burgess' mind this season, like a possible NFL career or college graduation. Nonetheless, the wide receiver thoughts about the upcoming season are quite different; "I've never been so focused man," he said with a foreshadowing, confident tone. "The best of Rudy Burgess is yet to come."

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