SE: Football Friday: Burns Ready to Tackle Senior Season

August 28, 2015
By Kelly McHugh-Stewart
  
Only one week away from beginning his final season in purple, Morgan Burns can’t help but look back on the path he took to where he is now.   
  
Today, the Wichita, Kansas, native is a team captain and a starter on what is predicted to be one of the top defensive backfields in the Big 12 this season and among the speediest players on K-State’s roster. Along with his impact on the defense, Burns is also a key contributor on special teams as he ranked third in the Big 12 with a 30.7-yard average on kickoff returns last season.
  
He’s smart, he’s versatile and he’s fast. 
   
As a true freshman in 2012, Burns led the team with 10 special teams tackles and his success has only grown since then. He continued to be a factor on special teams during his sophomore season and began to see time at cornerback before taking over the lead role at corner as a junior in 2014.  
  
“I started out on special teams and being on the field, then last year I was a starter, so my confidence has come a long way,” said Burns. “I came in never playing corner before, so I always said I was the worst corner in the Big 12. I was horrible, but Coach (Tom) Hayes did a great job coaching me, teaching me and sticking with me. I think it’s day and night for me when it comes to playing corner, and I think my confidence is where I’ve grown the most. I have a lot more confidence in myself now.”
  
A night and day difference indeed, Burns finished sixth on the squad with 55 tackles last season while also grabbing three interceptions and tallying seven pass breakups. He had the best game of his career against No. 11 Oklahoma last October as he recorded a career-high eight tackles and stripped away a potential Sooners’ touchdown after grabbing an interception in the end zone. His play was crucial in that 31-30 win over the Sooners.
  
He was a key component on special teams, too, where, along with his impressive return average, he took a kickoff 86 yards for a touchdown against Oklahoma State, the first of his career. Following his exciting junior season, Burns earned 2015 Preseason All-Big 12 honors as a kick returner from both Athlon and Phil Steele.  
  
This year, along with his role on the field, Burns has been playing a big role off the field as well by being named a team captain. Though this year’s Wildcat defense is experienced with six returning starters, there is still plenty of youth looking to him for advice. 
  
But luckily for Burns, he had leaders before him who he still looks up to when it comes to leadership. 
  
“When I look back, I look at Blake Slaughter (2009-14), Ty Zimmerman (2010-13), Collin Klein (2008-12) and Tre Walker (2010-13),” explained Burns. “All those guys, I remember the things they did, how they worked and how they led and I try to implement them all the time.”
  
Looking forward to this season, Burns joins a pair of senior All-Big 12 performers in safety Dante Barnett and defensive back Danzel McDaniel in the dynamic secondary. A group that boasts leadership, speed and talent, the trio has potential to create one of the best secondary units in the nation.
  
Burns is ready to leave everything on the field and lead his teammates to do the same. He’s ready to continue his path with K-State and take nothing for granted a long the way. 
  
“I think it’s starting to hit me in a lot of different ways. On one level, this is going to be my last season; I’m a senior and it’s going to be my last time playing football with a lot of these guys,” he said. “What I think a lot of people don’t always understand is that we spend four years with our team doing everything together, then once we’re done, guys go back to Texas, California, Oklahoma, or wherever, and I won’t see some of these guys for a long time. So, I think when you’re a senior, all of those things start to hit you and you realize: ‘I need to enjoy this. I need to care for my teammates more, enjoy the memories and moments that we have together.’
  
“It’s all hitting me and pushing me to be a better leader.”
  
K-State kicks off its 2015 campaign at 6:10 p.m., on Saturday, Sept. 5, as it is set to host South Dakota in Bill Snyder Family Stadium. The game will be shown world-wide on K-StateHD.TV beginning with “K-State Gameday” at 5:10 p.m., hosted by Brain Smoller and former K-State greats Ian Campbell and Nick Leckey.
  
All reserved seating for the first four home games is sold out as the Wildcats close in on a season sellout and run their consecutive sellout streak to 27 games. Only scattered single seats remain for the Baylor and West Virginia games, while general admission tickets are still available for the Iowa State game.  Standing-room only tickets are still available for every home game in 2015 with the exception of the Baylor contest.
  
Fans who wish to purchase standing-room only tickets and the remaining available seats for the Baylor, Iowa State and West Virginia games can do so by contacting the K-State Athletics Ticket Office at www.k-statesports.com/tickets or 1-800-221-CATS.  
  
For other reserved seating options, fans are encouraged to visit Vivid Seats, the official ticket reseller of K-State Athletics.  Fans can contact Vivid Seats at www.vividseats.com/k-state or by calling 1-866-848-8499.
  
Although reserved seating is sold out for a majority of the 2015 home games, visiting teams will have opportunities to return unused tickets up to a month prior to their visit. Stay tuned to www.k-statesports.com for information regarding returned ticket availability. All returned tickets will be sold at the full public rate and season ticket wait list accounts will have first opportunity to purchase.
  

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Kelly McHugh, or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.