VAUGHT: Burress changing careers

Leonard Burress still enjoys playing football with the Lexington Horsemen, but he knows that football eventually will end and his real "professional career" lies ahead. "When Tampa Bay released me, they wanted me to go to the CFL and then work my way back to the NFL," said the former UK defensive back. "But I wanted something that was guaranteed. I know nobody can ever take my degree from me."

"When Tampa Bay released me, they wanted me to go to the CFL (Canadian Football League) and then work my way back to the NFL," said the former UK defensive back. "But I wanted something that was guaranteed. I know nobody can ever take my degree from me. I wanted to finish my education and then if I still had the drive to try the NFL, do it then. But I am happy doing what I am right now. That's what I plan to keep on doing."

Burress completed his degree in May and soon will start a job as a production supervisor for a home building company in Cincinnati. "I've never done anything like that, but they have a training program to teach me," he said.

Burress never expected to be staying this close to Lexington when he came to Kentucky as a highly-touted prospect from Memphis to play for Hal Mumme. However, he soon learned that fans really do "love" football in Kentucky and that he liked the lifestyle here.

"To be honest, in my wildest dreams I didn't think I would still be hanging around here," Burress laughed and said. "I was thinking I would play a couple of years, get a shot in the NFL and leave Kentucky after that. Once I got here it was a nice environment that I hope one day my kids can grow up in. Memphis is not a bad place to grow up, but this is lovely place to live and that's why I stuck around."

Burress also never thought Kentucky would help him in one other way — he went from a shy youngster to a mature young man. "I was real camera shy when I first got up here. There was not a lot of real hard press coverage in high school. It was not an every day thing like it is at Kentucky," Burress said. "I had to mature a little bit, too. It helped watching older players like Dennis Johnson and how he was in front of the camera. It made me a better person even if I didn't always like the attention. But looking back, it made me grow into a more responsible person."


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