Adrian Burnette



Oct. 16, 2000

Adrian Burnette feeds off responsibility, energy, celebrating, over-achieving and making tacklers miss. The wide receiver thrives off being counted on to make the play, scoring, big numbers, his fellow receivers, giving his all on every snap and brutally high expectations.

Maybe that's why Tulane's leading receiver this season gets nervous on game days and has developed a calming ritual that brings him out onto the football field before the first tailgaters even reach the stadium.

"I like to go out real early, before anyone else is out on the field. I walk around, jog a little, and then I find my spot. I always find some place on the field where I'm comfortable. Then I look around and just relax. It's always in one of the end zones."

Before the game is not the only time his teammates can look at the end zone to find Adrian this year. He has made it back for a touchdown in every game this year, just in time for a little revelry, a sideline dance and then the chance to go back onto the field and get another one.
"When we score a touchdown, we're not supposed to celebrate, but I guess you could say I'm the black sheep of the family. I'll do a little high five or something. Then they wait until they're on the sidelines to huddle up and celebrate legally in front of the bench."

The receivers celebrate as a unit and Burnette is the leader, but he believes every receiver can make a huge play for the team.

"I've got to be able to contribute. I'm a captain and I've experienced everything on the field that can happen in a game, so I should be able to put some numbers up and raise my game."

Burnette is averaging 100.2 yards per game to go with 1.2 touchdowns per game.

"Other teams see my numbers and think they'll double cover me. That's just fine. (Kerwin) Cook will beat you or Terrell (Harris) or Zander (Robinson) or Roydell (Williams) or someone is going to beat you. They'll get six or seven catches each and the defense will have to change it up at halftime to compensate. Then I'll get eight catches in the second half. That's this team. We have no number one receiver. We have four or five receivers who can beat anyone out there. Pick your poison."

When the coaches and the fans try to find the most menacing receiver on a team, they usually look to the tallest players, and at 5-foot-10, Burnette comes up a tad short of most people's expectations for receivers.

"Everybody likes the big receivers, the six-footers or the Randy Mosses, but I'm quicker and harder to take down. I guess you could say my height puts me at a disadvantage, but I don't see it that way anymore."

With all the emphasis on size and strength in the NCAA in recent years, and the dilemma of being a slot-receiver facing linebackers and safeties who say they like to try to hit receivers as hard as they can, Burnette laughs.

"I love it when they try to kill me. When they come at you so hard they want to split you in half, one juke and its over. I love making them look like they're crazy," Burnette said. He broke two slant-type passes in last week's game against Lafayette for over 40 yards as part of his 11 catch, 191-yard performance in the Wave's victory.

But sometime even huge numbers don't meet Burnette's expectations. "I'm behind where I should be right now. If I'm not making the catches or putting up big numbers, then we're not playing as well as we should be. Hundred yard games don't mean that much. Sometimes I go out there and catch eight balls, two TDs and get 120 yards, we lose the game and people are yelling at me for not getting more."

"Ramsey is going to throw 300-350 yards a game, so it's not up to me. If I get 100 yards, then there's another four guys who've gotta go get those other 250. It's a team thing. If someone else gets the 100 yards, then I'm gonna get my share of the rest of the pie. "But yeah, I have to admit I like the numbers. This is my last year, and I want us to win every game and do everything I can to make that happen."

For Wave receivers in recent history, football doesn't end with graduation. Burnette's teammates from the last to years, P.J. Franklin and JaJuan Dawson both signed on with pro teams, with Dawson making it as a rookie starter with the Cleveland Browns.

Burnette said he still has the dream of playing in the pros. "I've gotten this far, it would be a shame not to just give it a try. Sports are my life."