"Kendric has always played football and enjoyed it," Leary said. "But I think baseball has a special place in his heart. He knows the game. He played it at a high level for quite some time."
Leary, Southwest's baseball coach since 1996, has written several articles for Coaching Digest. He describes the "five tools" for baseball success as hitting, hitting for power, throwing, running and fielding.
"Kendric is as close to a ‘five-tool' player as I've coached in high school," he said
An AAU national baseball champion, Burney has already been tested and excelled against outstanding competition. As a junior at SWO, he batted .424, with four HRs, 10 doubles and 15 RBI.
As a late-inning reliever regularly clocked in the low 90 mph range, he finished the season 3-0, with a 1.42 ERA, two saves, 64 Ks and 11 walks.
But after talking it over with Fox, Burney says he's already decided to give up pitching to focus on hitting and fielding in hopes of one day breaking into the majors.
"Baseball is my love forever," Burney said last month from Spartanburg, S.C. while in town for the Shrine Bowl. "Coach Fox, Coach [Chad] Holbrook and I have a good relationship. That's my main sport whatever happens."
Hopefully for UNC fans, he'll be able to stick to both sports for as long as possible, because Burney's football potential upside is also promising.
"He's got all the tools," SWO football coach Phil Padgett said. "He could potentially contribute in the nickel package, or I wouldn't be shocked if he became their shutdown corner."
Burney will join the Stallions baseball team following basketball season, ideally in time for their Mar. 3 opener.