Pocket passer hearing from SEC school

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Football recruiting is an all-seasons ordeal.

Coaches, parents and recruits alike all eventually come to understand the importance of communication whether it's online, via text messaging or in person.

Ryan Burns and his father Bryan Burns know that now as well as anyone as the highly-prized quarterback makes his way across the country to see universities showing strong interest so that they may make an educated decision come signing day for the Class of 2013 prospect.

"We're trying to get to as many (campuses) as we can and see what each of them are like and meet the coaches, just kind of going through the initial process," the elder Burns told InsideTennessee.

They have already attended a junior day at Penn State and plan to be in California to check out another at Stanford this weekend. A death of a close friend prevented them from attending a Virgina junior day, but they play to head back to Charlottesville soon.

Eight schools have already offered the Stone Bridge High School standout out of Ashburn, Va., and one of the most recent to pull the trigger is Tennessee.

"When Ryan was offered (by Tennessee), he was extremely excited," said Bryan Burns, who noted that his son is being recruited by Vol defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri.

The Burns obviously have a hectic spring ahead but are contemplating heading south to check out a practice once the Volunteers get underway on March 26 or possibly taking in the Orange & White game at Neyland Stadium on April 21.

They wanted to check out Rocky Top last July but the recruiting circuit got the better of them.

"We were literally trying to pick-and-choose because the camps were running simultaneously," said Burns, who had to decide on multiple opportunities going on at once. "There was just no way to go to both schools. So, we regrettably did not go to the Tennessee camp.

"Of all the camps and the colleges we did hit last summer, Tennessee was the only one that we didn't get to that was on our original list."

Since leaving an NFL job with the St. Louis Rams to come to Tennessee, offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has made it clear the type of signal-caller he wants to see in orange and white. Matt Simms, Tyler Bray, Justin Worley and Nathan Peterman have all been pocket passers and Burns appears to fit the mold.

"He's definitely Pro-Style," Ryan's father said. "He's 6-5 and now 225. Primarily with his high school he's operating out of the shotgun. He's got great mechanics, great footwork, very accurate, strong arm. So, when you look at the prototype of a pocket passer, he fits the criteria. He's got a great work ethic. Smart kid with a 3.92 GPA."

Ryan has learned under some expert quarterback minds already, including Larry Kennan.

Kennan was hired by Incarnate Word to be its head football coach in mid-December. He has experience with six NFL teams and was quarterbacks coach with the Super Bowl winning Los Angeles Raiders. His last job prior to getting the head coaching gig was as the executive director of the NFL Coaches Association up in D.C.

"Ryan has had some good tutoring and some good instructors," Burns said.

From Ryan's infancy to middle school, the Burns family lived out west in Colorado and Wyoming before they made their way to the Washington, D.C., area. The move has provided a challenge to Ryan as a football player with the state of Virginia consistently putting out a plethora of BCS-level prospects.

Stone Bridge opened up the season with a record of 1-1 before rattling off nine straight victories in which it never scored less than 28 points.

However, the top-seeded Bulldogs fell to South County 25-3 in the Northern Region Division 6 semifinals back on Nov. 18. The victors made life tough on Burns, intercepting him twice as he was 5-for-17 passing for 100 yards.

It was the first time since 2001 that Stone Bridge did not make the regional final.

In his first season as coach Mickey Thompson's starter, he threw for 1,801 yards with 13 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

Burns, who wears No. 16, fractured his shoulder his sophomore season while playing as a back-up to current Virginia Tech back-up Brian Rody. Nevertheless, the first scholarship offer came from Boston College shortly after he turned 15. Since then, schools like Penn State, Stanford, Tennessee and Virginia have followed suit.

The No. 1 aspect of a college that the family is looking for is clearly academics.

"Academics is going to rank, if not parallel with the football program, very close to it," Bryan Burns said. "As we all know, football careers are relatively short-lived. So, academics is going to play a huge factor in the decision making. That goes without saying."

Ryan is undecided on a major, but Math is among his strongest subjects. He will take the SAT next weekend.

Danny Parker is currently the Associate Editor, Recruiting Analyst and Staff Photographer for InsideTennessee.com. He was previously the sports editor at Shelbyville Times-Gazette. He joined the InsideTennessee team July 2011.

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