Player Profile: Neal Burcham

The Pony Stampede staff profiles every projected starter for SMU football. Today, quarterback Neal Burcham is up!

Neal Burcham

Position: Quarterback

Size: 6-3, 207

Year: Sophomore (redshirted)

High School: Greenbrier

Hometown: Greenbrier, Ark.

Recruitment: had Burcham as a two-star in the class of 2011 when he left Greenbriar. However, during the summer, Burcham burst onto the scene at the Elite 11, winning Co-MVP honors with future Heisman Trophy winner and National Champion quarterback Jameis Winston. Although he tore his ACL, Burcham was named the 5A West Player of the Year and earned All-Conference and All-State honors. As a junior, Burcham passed for 3,409 yards and 35 touchdowns while leading Greenbrier to the quarterfinal round of the 5A state playoffs. He held offers from Cincinnati, UAB and Arkansas State before choosing SMU.

2013 Review: Burcham started SMU’s final two games last year after Garrett Gilbert went down with an injury, but the freshman did not play very well at all. He finished the season 64-106 for 556 yards 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions after being thrown into the starting role against South Florida. After getting a couple games under his belt, Burcham looked much more poised and confident in the last game of the season against Central Florida. He threw for 222 yards and a touchdown with no interceptions in the Mustangs’ loss.

Grade: C-

Outlook in 2014: Replacing the hole Garret Gilbert leaves at quarterback will be a very difficult task for the Mustangs. Although Matt Davis is the sexier name amongst fans, I expect Burcham to be the starter week 1 vs. Baylor. He fits June Jones scheme perfectly and has been making strides throughout the spring and summer to improve his game. Gilbert’s injury last season could be a blessing in disguise for the Mustangs as it gave Burcham a chance to run the Run N Shoot offense for a few games.

Bucham is a prototypical pocket passer who has good zip on his ball. He is terrific at making the intermediate throws, but has been known for throwing too many interceptions as fans saw against Houston last year when he tossed three. Burcham is also much less mobile than Gilbert and Davis, but that shouldn’t affect his ability to run Jones’ offense. Obviously, Burcham is never going to live up the hype of his award with Winston, but he doesn’t have to be the best quarterback in the nation. As long as he can limit turnovers and make smart throws, SMU will have a productive offense once again next year. If he doesn’t do those things, Matt Davis will be waiting in the wings.

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