With the graduation of senior wide receiver Joshua McCain, a Biletnikoff Award watch list honoree who finished 2014 with 76 receptions and 1,162 yards and nine touchdowns, restocking the receiving corps is a priority. We've introduced the class that signed with Idaho this offseason, including freshman Jante Boston, plus grayshirt freshman Michael Garner and junior college transfer Callen Hightower, both of whom were in for spring camp.
The list of wide receiver prospects doesn't stop there. Late last week the grapevine was buzzing that Idaho would be welcoming another receiver into the program this fall, a prospect from across the country out of Priceville High School in Decatur, Alabama. Enter the latest “slash” to join the Vandal program -- Lamar Burch, a 6-foot-0, 185-pound athlete with 4.39-40 speed who has started at multiple positions on both sides of the ball over his 3-years with the Bulldogs.
A productive athlete in all facets of the game - offense, defense, and special teams - he made his most explosive impact as a senior when he switched to wide receiver. For a look at his senior highlight reel, click the link below:
TO GET THE INSIDE SCOOP on Burch's playing career at Priceville, we reached out to head football coach Dirk Strunk and were fortunate to connect with the Bulldog coach to chat about his former standout.
“Lamar is a tremendous athlete,” Coach Strunk told GoVandals.net. “He runs a 4.39-40, has great break-away speed and was a 3-year starter for us. He started in the defensive secondary for us his 10th and 11th grade years, then we moved him to slot receiver his senior year. He had a tremendous senior year -- 18 catches for 387 yards and nine touchdowns. One out of every two catches he had he scored a touchdown.”
These may not be the most intense statistics (aside from the impressive touchdown production) of the group of receivers joining the program this fall, until we learn a little more about the rest of the story.
“His stats would have been even better,” Coach Strunk added, “but our starting quarterback blew out his knee early in the season so we didn’t throw the ball as much after he got hurt. Lamar didn’t get the receptions that he would have if our quarterback would have been healthy. Early in the season, Lamar took a bubble pass out of the backfield and goes 60 yards untouched. There were kids who had the angle on him and they didn’t come close to catching him.
“He also was our kicker and punter. He was an excellent kicker – about 85% of his kickoffs went into the endzone and he averaged 40+ yards per punt. He also averaged 20+ yards per return because he also was our return man.”
So he did a little of everything?
“He did, he did. He’s just a tremendous athlete. He was All-Area in football and All-Area in soccer. He’s a hard working young man who sets goals for himself and works very hard to achieve them.”
BURCH DIDN’T PICK UP THE GAME OF FOOTBALL until he was a sophomore. Before that he focused his energy on soccer, which explains why an athlete with his wheels made such an impact kicking the ball. He was named a 1st Team pick to at least two All-Area teams as a kicker/punter, and in both cases the touchdowns he caught as a receiver were also mentioned.
“He’s a diamond in the rough,” coach Strunk told GoVandals.net. “If our quarterback stays healthy everyone would have known about Lamar. Every time he touched the ball something big was happening. We actually moved him to runningback some [after the quarterback was lost for the season] and he averaged about 6 yards per carry for us. We moved him all around.”
The Vandals are expected to have 11 receivers in the depth chart when fall camp starts (not counting the new additions joining the program this fall) so the battle for playing time should be intense. But with his speed Burch will get his looks, including on special teams.
“Wherever they play him up at Idaho he will excel because he will work hard. I know Lamar’s work ethic and he will excel up there. He’s so excited to be playing. All he needs is a chance and when they see what he can do with the ball, he’ll get some playing time.”
And coach Strunk has plans to watch Burch in person if he gets that opportunity when Idaho makes the trip to Alabama this fall.
“I’m looking forward to seeing great things out of him,” coach Strunk said, “and I’m looking forward to when Idaho makes the trip to Troy. Hopefully he’ll get a chance to play and I’ll get a chance to watch him play. And Auburn’s only two and half hours away. So if he is going to travel and is playing, our coaches are going to watch him play.”