Not long ago quarterback Justin Burke was setting the high school football scene in Kentucky ablaze through the air. In just a short time he has made a rapid transition to college life.
Considered by most to be the top quarterback prospect in the Bluegrass State last year, Burke led perennial powerhouse Lexington Catholic to a state championship. In doing so he threw for 3,789 yards with an eye-popping 62 touchdowns. Over the course of his junior and senior seasons, Burke's touchdown-to-interception ratio was an unbelievable 98-to-10.
While the state of Kentucky is not known for producing a lot of Division I talent in comparison to other states in the region, the state has had no trouble producing successful quarterbacks. The list of quarterbacks to spend their high school years in the state includes Johnny Unitas, Tim Couch, Jared Lorenzen, Chris Redman and Brian Brohm, among others.
Burke has not had much time to catch his breath since his high school days ended.
"I'm in Raleigh right now," Burke recently told Pack Pride. "It has been nothing short of awesome. I graduated May 20, got to Raleigh May 21 and my first class was May 22. I was sort of shoved into things right off the bat.
"Things have been made pretty easy, though, because the guys have really taken me in. I'm hanging out with my new teammates on the weekends and all the guys are bonding really well."
The signing of Burke was greeted with much applause from Pack fans who watched quarterback play that was inconsistent at best during the 2005 campaign. While the Wolfpack won five of its final six games after handing over the reigns to Marcus Stone, the offense was often simply asked not to lose the game. While Burke expects big things to happen on the field this year, he issued a word of caution to those expecting the days of Philip Rivers to return immediately.
"We're at the point right now where we're going to field one of the best defenses in at least the ACC, and maybe the nation, just about every year," said Burke. "I've watched these guys and I'm around a lot of the new guys. The defense is going to be good enough to win us plenty of games, if the offense can do its job.
|"Everyone's goal here is to win an ACC championship."|
"We aren't always going to be asked to go out and score a ton of points. One of the main goals on offense is going to be taking care of the ball. We just can't turn the ball over. We have enough talent on offense that we're going to move the ball. But the biggest thing is going to be not putting the defense in a bad situation."
Burke also addressed another area of difficulty for NC State last season.
"Just about anyone could notice that the team wasn't too disciplined at times last year. We have to go into every game ready to play disciplined football. That goes for when we're on offense, defense or our special teams units. We have to be fundamentally sound, and the guys that I've talked to about it are serious about making that happen."
While Amato's coaching staff has garnered national praise for their recruiting efforts since arriving in 2000, the incoming Class of 2006 has not received as much attention from many recruiting analysts. Burke is not worried about that one bit.
"The guys coming in are very athletic," Burke stressed. "There's a lot of speed and a lot of size. We have a very good class of receivers coming in and a couple of kickers that have great legs. There are guys all over the field that can really play.
"I really think these receivers could end up being one of the best group of guys that State has ever had at the position. They're big, fast, athletic and they can catch the ball really well. We're doing some workouts now on our own and we're just playing a little amongst ourselves. The coaches can't be around now so I'm just trying to get a feel for what we're working with. I'm starting to get very optimistic about our chances this fall."
"Everyone's goal here is to win an ACC championship. That's the first thing on everyone's mind. We're not going to be satisfied until we do that, and we aren't going to settle for anything less. It's just been a really exciting time since I've been here. Everyone has the same mindset and we all have a common goal. If we just stay focused like we are now everything else will fall into place."
BURKE ON BURKE: "My cerebral approach and my footwork are my strengths. I can run if I need to. People say I am more of a pocket passer, but once again, I can run when I have to. I have no problem doing that. But I would say my decision making, footwork, and accuracy are my strengths."
COACH QUOTE: "I don't think there's any offense out there in America that he couldn't run successfully. There are a few that would be more to his expertise than others though." -- Lexington Catholic Head Coach Bob Sphire
#10 Justin Burke - Junior Video 2
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