Position Series Feature: James Burgess

University of Louisville sophomore linebacker James Burguess had a stellar freshman campaign. With four starts to his name, Burgess will be expected to fill a larger role this fall.

As part of the 2011 recruiting class, linebacker James Burgess arrived at the University of Louisville with plenty of potential and high hopes. Originally a Miami commit, the former three-star prospect announced his intentions to become a Cardinal during the Semper Fidelis All-American game one month before National Signing Day.

Coming out of Homestead (Fla.) High School, Burgess was known as a big hitter, but a player that needed to learn how to play well within a designed defensive scheme.

"He was just a run and hit guy," said linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary. "He didn't play in a structured system and that's his challenge is to be able to play within our system and understand where his fits are instead of being just a run and hit guy."

His potential became clear last season, when as a true freshman, Burgess quickly cracked the two-deep depth chart and eventually worked his way into the starting rotation. He appeared in 10 games, making four starts at the weakside linebacker spot, where he totaled 27 stops.

Burgess also quickly proved that he has a knack in finding the ball. The 6-foot, 215-pounder finished tied with safety Calvin Pryor for second on the team snagged two interceptions. He registered his first pick against Connecticut and his second a week later in the regular season finale at 25th-ranked Rutgers.

With the Cardinals and Scarlet Knights knotted up at 17-17 late in the fourth quarter, Burgess intercepted a pass from Rutgers Gary Nova near midfield. The Cardinals took the ensuing possession into the Rutgers red zone where John Wallace converted the game winning field goal.

Entering his sophomore campaign and with Keith Brown recovering from injury, Burgess will counted on for more. He spent the off season working in the weight room and with his nose in the play book.

"He's stepping up to that challenge, but he still has a little work to do," Jean-Mary said. "His understanding of the defense is getting a lot better."

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