Fort Smith Northside quarterback Kodi Burns knows that every word that comes out of his mouth - and some he gets credit for saying whether he actually did so or not - is going to be interpreted as a plus or a minus by University of Arkansas football fans.
Such is the case when you are looked at as the state's top quarterback prospects, one of the nation's top 10 signal callers and one of the 75 best in the country regardless of position.
"It's been kind of crazy and it's kind of amazing that so many people are worrying what I am going to do and hoping I sign with Arkansas," Burns said. "But I understand why. They love their team."
Burns (6-2, 190, 4.5), who completed 134-of-277 passing for 2,182 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for just under 1,000 yards and another 11 scores, now has 10 scholarship offers.
The first of those offers came from Arkansas before he started his junior season.
"I've always grown up wanting to be a Razorback and that's not changed," Burns said. "They will always be at the top of my list. But I feel like I owe it to myself to go through this recruiting process and do what's best for me. I think if everybody would be honest with themselves that is what they would do also."
That's why in addition to Arkansas, he is taking a long look at some of his other suitors - Texas A&M, Auburn, Kansas State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt.
He has already taken unofficial visits to Arkansas, Tennessee and Kansas State (last weekend with Springdale linebacker Jamie Jones) and could get to Texas A&M, Auburn and Ole Miss for more unofficial visit during July if his schedule allows.
"I don't want to take it down to the wire," Burns said. "I've already started to weed it out a little bit and I want to make a decision at least by the middle of the season if I can."
He was recently quoted by one school's recruiting site as saying that four schools had told him he was the number one quarterback on their recruiting boards - Auburn, Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Vandy.
Noticeably missing in that particular story was Arkansas, who Burns said has made it very clear to him he is their number one guy through new Razorback offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
"I don't know why Arkansas was not listed," Burns said. "I didn't know about that story, but it's clearly just a miscommunication. Coach Malzahn makes it very clear every time we talk that I'm their guy. Every time. He's made sure I know that and I know I am the only quarterback they have offered."
The fact that Malzahn - who coached incoming Razorback freshman quarterback Mitch Mustain - is at Arkansas gives Burns something to excited about, but also something to factor into his decision.
"I really like Coach Malzahn and think they are going to be fun to watch offensively this next season," Burns said. "He is telling me that if I come to Arkansas that he thinks Mitch and I can do some great things together.
"But people also understand - and I am not saying this will be the case - but people have to understand that he was Mitch's high school coach and it would be normal that he might have the upper hand there," Burns said. "It's not something I am saying would happen, but surely people would understand I have to think about that when making a decision."
Burns makes it clear he will not run from the challenge of Mustain or any other quarterback for that matter.
"No matter where I end up there are going to be great quarterbacks whether it be Arkansas or another school," Burns said. "That doesn't really play into my decision."
Asked if he would have offered just one 2007 quarterback if he had been the Razorback coaches, Burns answered diplomatically.
"I'm honored by that and it makes me feel great," Burns said. "I don't know what I would have done - that's something for coaches to decide, not players. But I can tell you it is interesting that some of these teams tell me that I am the only one they have offered and then I hear about them offering 3 or 4 more other guys. I know with Arkansas I am their number one and I trust them."
Northside offensive lineman Paul Henry committed to Ole Miss last month in a move that shocked Burns.
"He had always told me that he didn't think he could see himself in any other college uniform than the red one of Arkansas," Burns said. "But he went down there, really loved it and decided to commit on the spot. I was definitely surprised. We had talked about going to school together, but he's decided that's the place for him."
At one point this summer, Burns was planning on just concentrating on football and not continuing to play AAU basketball with the Arkansas Hawks, but the dates worked out so he could continue to play both sports - just as he plans to do in college.
That does mean he will be in Las Vegas for a tournament when Arkansas' is holding its Seniors Camp on July 21-22.
"I'm not doing any other football stuff besides 7-on-7 the rest of this summer," Burns said. "I'm just trying to get better so we can have a great season."
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