PSU recruiting spotlight: Rob Burns has size, athleticism
Rob Burns was a pretty normal-looking kid until the seventh grade.
That's when the growth spurts started.
Six inches one year.
Six more inches the next.
"Just a lot of growing pains," said Burns, who recently finished his junior year at Stone Bridge High in Ashburn, Va. "I leveled out and then got more coordinated and got a lot bigger and became a football player."
And now he's a football player in demand.
Burns' size, athleticism and standout work in the classroom has attracted scholarship interest from Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Stanford, Syracuse, Virginia -- and the Nittany Lions.
He now is 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds and seems best-suited as a defensive end.
"I might have another inch in me," he said with a
Spotlight on recruiting
Recruiting has not only become a 12 month-a-year business for college football coaches, it's also blossomed into a second season of sorts for fans. But just who are the national stars and little-known projects the Nittany Lions are targeting for the class of 2011? What are their stories?
More content and mulitmedia from Frank Bodani is available at the Nittany Nation blog.
· Maika Polamalu
· Ben Koyack
· Kyshoen Jarrett
· Shawn Oakman
· Terrell Chestnut
· Donovan Smith
· Savon Huggins
· Doran Grant
· Brandon Phelps
· Deion Barnes
· Angelo Mangiro
· Shaun Underwood
· Darius Jennings
· Rob Burns
The height comes from his mother's side, including a grandfather who is 6-foot-8 and who boxed and played football.
But his athleticism and versatility may even be more impressive than his size.
Burns has played basketball and starred in lacrosse before swapping that for track and field this past spring. He ran the 200 meters and threw the discus and shot put, qualifying for districts in the shot.
"And he's probably a better lacrosse player," said his father, Bob Burns, who is only 6-1. "But there's so much running involved in lacrosse that he actually dropped weight, which wasn't his objective."
However, his height does set him apart. There just aren't many 6-foot-7 defensive ends in college football. (Penn State's Eric Latimore is unusual enough at 6-6).
There are advantages to that extra size, such as a long wingspan to knock down passes and make it difficult for a quarterback to see his targets.
But there could be negatives, too. Long bodies are susceptible to being blocked low and knocked off their feet -- and even injured.
"He covers a lot of ground," said Mickey Thompson, Burns' high school coach. "I haven't had too many players cover that much ground that quickly.
"Now, whether he stays (at defensive end) I don't know. A lot depends on what kind of player he grows into. He'll be a lot different in a couple of years than he is now."
Certainly, Burns could bulk up and grow into a tight end.
But for now he sees himself on defense. And he sees all of those extra inches as a positive.
"I think it helps me a lot. To have the long arms helps me get off blocks. The long legs help me run. (Offensive linemen) can get under me (blocking), that's the only thing, but if I can stay low I'm pretty good."
He also seems to have a pretty base to work with off the field, as well.
There are those great grades (3.95 grade-point average), strong SAT scores (1,560) and a desire to study psychology or finance in college.
His father earned his undergraduate business degree from the University of Colorado and his MBA from Connecticut before landing a financial analyst job.
He works for an investment management company, traveling from New York City to North Carolina to Cleveland.
Could the son follow him into the business world some day?
"Well, Rob just turned 17 (last Wednesday)," Bob Burns said. "I'm not sure he's fully decided yet."
Not even sure of his height. He might just be 6-8 before finally joining a team like the Nittany Lions.
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