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Kodi Burns is ready to take mantle from Mitch Mustain.
That would be the most talked about high school football player in the state.
Burns, Fort Smith Northside's 6-2-190-pound quarterback, joins Rogers offensive lineman Lee Ziemba, Morrilton athlete Josh Trezvant, Paris tight end and new UA commit Grant Freeman and Jonesboro offensive lineman Grant Cook (6-5, 260) as probably the five best junior football prospects in the state.
But likely none of those will generate the buzz that Burns - who got an offer from the University of Arkansas before his junior season began - will since he will be the state's top skill player in the 2007 class.
"It's going to be crazy, but at the same time it is going to be fun," Burns said. "I know it's coming so I can't help but ready for it. I believe I am prepared to handle it and I will evaluate everything and take it all step-by-step as the it comes along."
At this point, I am sure everybody wants me to cut to the chase. Yes, I asked him about Arkansas signing Mitch Mustain and whether that would keep him from considering them.
"No way does it eliminate Arkansas and I am definitely looking at the Razorbacks," Burns said. "It is the hometown state. It was the best decision for Mitch, but him being there doesn't bother me at all. I think it is going to be a great opportunity for him at Arkansas and if I am there at the same time, I am sure it will be great for me as well."
If Mustain plays this year, there could be as many as two years separation between the two if Burns redshirts.
"I have played against him and respect him as both a player and a person," Burns said. "I think if we are there at the same time he can teach me some things that can make me a better player. That would be just fine with me so no, it will not keep me from coming to Arkansas."
Of course before that becomes a possibility Arkansas will have to fend off a ton of other programs. Texas A&M and Arkansas State have already offered as well and he is also drawing interest from schools such as Miami, Nebraska, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Texas and many others.
"Kodi is a such a great kid and a great quarterback," Fort Smith Northside head coach Darrell Henry said. "We talked about recruiting a little bit last week and the offers are going to start rolling in now that it's past Feb. 1 (the 2006 national signing date). I am sure he will handle it just fine."
Burns accounted for 31 touchdowns last season by completing 134-of-277 passing for 2,182 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushing for 965 yards and another 11 scores.
That followed a sophomore season where he was 129-of-228 for 1,935 yards and 21 touchdowns while rushing for 881 yards and five more scores.
He showed off that arm by throwing a pass 74 yards at last summer's quarterback challenge.
"It looks like he is playing a video game out there," Henry said. "The game just slows down for him as it does for all the great ones. Everybody else looks like they are playing too fast and he is just very calm and making all the right decisions. And of course he can throw the football 74 yards and the top NFL guy just threw it 72. "
Burns and Northside - who finished 8-5 and lost to West Memphis in the Class AAAAA state semifinals - should inherit the number one ranking from Springdale when the 2006 season rolls around.
"We should be ready on offense, we should be ready on defense and we are going to work hard in the offseason," Burns said. "I know a lot of people going to put us number one and expect us to do a lot. I have got to step up as a leader and take over the team."
"We have six seniors who played and all of them had an impact, but at the same time we also have some talented juniors and sophomores who are ready to step in and fill those roles," Burns added.
Burns is also a very good basketball player and had 10 points Friday night in a 43-40 overtime loss at Rogers.
"We have got one of the best teams, but we have got to start playing as a team," Burns said. "We can't get overwhelmed by playing on the road and just got to start winning games. We have the talent and ability to do it, but just got to step up and get it done."
Henry, who describes Burns as a quarterback who happens to be a great athlete and not an athlete who happens to be a quarterback, has no doubt that will happen on both the football field and the basketball court.
"When he gets to college and is just playing football, he 's going to be even better," Henry said. "He's going to be a great one. He's worthy of all the hype he is going to get."