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
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
"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,
"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."