In the days leading up to the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl, we will profile several of the players committed to play in the sixth annual showcase. Today, we feature Oklahoma State linebacker Jordan Burton.
While Jordan Burton now stands as a first-team All-Big 12 outside linebacker, his life had the beginnings of a distinctly different path. Yet through it all, Burton found ways to produce, put up numbers on defense and set a tone that established a singular message: Jordan Burton was going to give it his all on the football field.
Burton’s college football career started at Stephen F. Austin, where he mainly played at linebacker for the FCS squad. He would routinely rack up a number of tackles for the squad, but even so, his heart never felt quite in it. The team would lose game despite his best efforts, and after two years there, Burton took a jump backwards in the hope of moving two steps up. Burton would play JUCO football at Kilgore College, which is where his passion for the game rekindled.
Playing safety, Burton displayed a sideline-to-sideline speed that allowed him to stop a player in his tracks when they came across him, most notably in a 17-tackle showing against Tyler Junior College. So impressive was his game play that he was named to the 2013 all-Southwest Junior College Football Conference first team, and perhaps more importantly, FBS programs were starting to call, wondering if he would accept a spot on their team.
Burton chose Oklahoma State, moving back to his first position as outside linebacker. His first game came against Central Michigan, where he immediately announced his presence and his ability to play at a high level with six tackles (including 1.5 for a loss) against the Chippewas.
After playing two relatively easy matchups, Burton got his first real taste of Big 12 football in a rivalry game against the Texas Longhorns. For the former Texas high school star, the return to his home state sparked a memorable performance with eight tackles (including 1.5 for a loss) in a narrow 30-27 victory over the Longhorns. It was then that this team truly looked poised to go on a run.
The following week against Kansas State saw a resilient Wildcats team attempt to take down the Cowboys, but behind Burton’s two tackles for a loss and a sack, Oklahoma State escaped with a 36-34 victory. The Cowboys again showed their ability to navigate close games when they took on West Virginia, and this time, Burton displayed the range that made him so highly coveted at the JUCO level by posting 11 tackles in a 33-26 win.
Thankfully for fans’ blood pressure, Oklahoma State would win its next three games handily. Burton posted a then-season high 13 tackles against Texas Tech, followed by a 12-tackle showing against No. 7 TCU’s explosive offense. He also had two tackles for a loss, a sack, and his first interception of the season. It was a fine way of putting an exclamation point on the Oklahoma State defense, and Burton’s efforts down the stretch would be a big reason why he landed on the All Big-12 first team. All told, he would finish his redshirt junior campaign with 98 total tackles and 9.0 tackles for a loss.
Burton’s senior year wasn’t quite as explosive as his previous one, but he still made quite an impact for Oklahoma State. The Cowboys defense now saw offenses game-planning to take No. 20 out of the game, yet even with the added attention, Burton still produced. He had three tackles for loss in their first four games (including 1.5 against No. 22 Pitt) and posted nine-tackle games against Central Michigan and Baylor. Even more importantly, his presence freed up his teammates to make stops of their own.
He also displayed some of the ball-hawking skills that made him a JUCO star, with interceptions against Baylor and Iowa State. Burton also forced a fumble in the Bedlam rivalry game against Oklahoma, and finished the year with 4.5 tackles for a loss and 61 total tackles despite missing a week. Not bad for a former FCS linebacker turned JUCO safety.
– David Chough
NFLPA Collegiate Bowl Analyst