Academic decision kept WR Burton hidden

Stephen Burton had a decision to make when it came time to transfer from junior college. There was a Division I opportunity waiting, but Burton didn't want to wait. See what the Vikings' newest receiver had to say about the difficult choice he had to make.

When the Vikings made Stephen Burton of West Texas A&M their final pick of the 2011 draft, most fans didn't recognize the name – not surprising given the lack of TV exposure the school receives – even though he posted impressive numbers as a senior (71 catches for 1,021 yards and 11 touchdowns) as well as being a kick return specialist.

However, he could have been a much bigger name if he didn't love the game so much. He was intending to attend Oklahoma after two years at Long Beach Community College, but an academic issue arose that caused him a problem. He would need additional course credits to make the jump to Division I. As a result, he would have to sit out the 2009 season – something he was unwilling to do.

"It was a long and bumpy road when I actually chose to go West Texas," Burton said. "I was eventually going to go to the University of Oklahoma, but I would have had to sit out the entire 2009 season to get the two classes necessary to transfer from my junior college. Why I decided not to sit out the 2009 season was because I love the game of football too much. My mother said, ‘If you're good, you're going to be seen regardless of where you go.' That is when I made my decision not to go Division I."

The choice didn't come easy. Had he become a Sooner, the chances of him getting noticed would have been markedly higher. The choice didn't come easily – even with sage advice from his mother – and he mulled it over for some time.

"It was tough," Burton said. "It probably took me almost a month to come to a final conclusion as to whether or not I was going to sit out the 2009 season just to go Division I."

While West Texas doesn't get a lot of attention, Burton did get noticed. But, when it came to draft weekend, he wasn't holding out too high of hopes that he would get the call he so badly wanted. It took 235 other players to come off the board before it happened, but he was pleasantly surprised when the phone rang and the Vikings were on the other end of the line.

"I really didn't think into anything with the draft," Burton said. "I was just hoping that my name would get called. I was trying to be patient and not get too crazy about the situation, but actually I didn't think (I would get drafted)."

Although he faces some long odds to make the final roster, unlike hundreds of other players that didn't get their names called, he is on an NFL roster as a draft choice and is excited to try to get his pro football career started.

"What do I think of being a Viking?" Burton asked. "I think it's a blessing and I can't wait to actually get up to Minnesota."


John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.



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As a result, he would have to sit out the 2009 season – something he was unwilling to do. \"It was a long and bumpy road when I actually chose to go West Texas,\" Burton said. \"I was eventually going to go to the University of Oklahoma, but I would have had to sit out the entire 2009 season to get the two classes necessary to transfer from my junior college. Why I decided not to sit out the 2009 season was because I love the game of football too much. My mother said, ‘If you're good, you're going to be seen regardless of where you go.' That is when I made my decision not to go Division I.\" The choice didn't come easy. Had he become a Sooner, the chances of him getting noticed would have been markedly higher. The choice didn't come easily – even with sage advice from his mother – and he mulled it over for some time. \"It was tough,\" Burton said. \"It probably took me almost a month to come to a final conclusion as to whether or not I was going to sit out the 2009 season just to go Division I.\" While West Texas doesn't get a lot of attention, Burton did get noticed. But, when it came to draft weekend, he wasn't holding out too high of hopes that he would get the call he so badly wanted. It took 235 other players to come off the board before it happened, but he was pleasantly surprised when the phone rang and the Vikings were on the other end of the line. \"I really didn't think into anything with the draft,\" Burton said. \"I was just hoping that my name would get called. 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