Burton Goes from Walk-on To Draft Pick

Rutgers 2014 team captain Michael Burton thanked many friends and family for his path to the Detroit Lions, but more than anything else, his work ethic won him a spot in the 2015 NFL draft. The soon-to-be NFL fullback spoke with Scout about his new home, and the people that helped him reach his potential.

The last time Detroit saw Michael Burton, he paved the way for a Rutgers bowl victory and MVP performance from running back Josh Hicks.

The next time, fans get to see Burton as a member of their Detroit Lions.

“At the end of the day, I’m interesting in the scheme that they use,” Burton said. “I think it’s going to fit me really well. One of the things they said is they like my versatility. I’ll be able to do different things, whether that be catch, run block. I’m going to be down there surrounded by premiere players – Matt Stafford, Calvin Johnson, Ameer Abdullah, who you and I already know is a very good back.”

It is not the first time Burton’s fate coincides with Abdullah, but he is happy the former Nebraska star on his team this time instead of the opposing sideline.

“Obviously you know he’s a great back and a great player,” Burton said. “In the small conversations we’ve had at the Combine, meeting him at Big Ten media day, he’s exceptional off the field. It’s an exciting time to get down there and get going.”

Burton became the second Rutgers player drafted in 2015, where he reunites with former coach Ron Prince.

“I feel great about it,” Burton said. “We connected very well when he was at Rutgers. We built a very strong relationship. He definitely passed on a lot of knowledge to me. For me to reconnect with him at the next level is very special.”

Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood hired Prince as his second offensive coordinator before he left in early 2014 for a job in Detroit.

“I got to speak with him at the Combine for a while, not only during it but after it,” Burton said. “He gave me a lot of great advice. He’s been through this process as a coach and stuff like that, so he gave me advice on what to expect and how to prepare. To have that resource on your side is special. It’s great to have those at Rutgers with your coaches and your Rutgers teammates and guys that are currently in the NFL.”

The walk-on turned team captain is a common discussion point for Burton, who cannot wait to share his story at the next level. Burton earned a scholarship after he walked on for former coach Greg Schiano.

He became a multi-year starter, team captain and key cog in the first Big Ten season in Piscataway.

“The support system that I have is just exceptional,” Burton said. “I wouldn’t get where I am without that. That starts back from high school to college to everything at Rutgers, support from my family and friends. All of that helped me get there. Without them, I wouldn’t be here. I’m really thankful for all of those people.”


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