Aug. 10, 2010
By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Kris Burd led UVa’s football team in catches and receiving yards last season, yet his profile around the ACC could not be much lower, in part because he posted modest numbers for one of the nation’s worst offenses.
Burd rarely, if ever, is mentioned as an all-ACC candidate, and he might not even be the most talented wide receiver on his team. That distinction probably belongs to Tim Smith or Dontrelle Inman. But Burd’s teammates and coaches believe he’s one of the league’s best-kept secrets.
“I think Burd’s going to surprise a lot of people,” cornerback Chase Minnifield said.
“Not a lot of people know about him, but within our circle, we definitely know about him,” quarterback Marc Verica said. “He’s a tremendous player. I think Kris’ greatest asset is just how smart he is. He has such a great feel for the game. He understands space, he understands how to set guys up.
“He’s a great route runner, he’s got great hands, and over all that, he’s extremely tough. He’s a very physical player for the position. He’s definitely not afraid to go across the middle or to hit somebody or to block. He’s truly a complete player, and I couldn’t be happier to be playing with him.”
The 5-11, 195-pound Burd came to UVa from Matoaca High, where his predecessors included James Farrior and Byron Thweatt.
Burd appeared in all 12 games as a redshirt freshman in 2008 but played primarily on special teams. A season later, he was a full-time starter and finished with 31 catches for 413 yards and 1 touchdown.
No other wideout at UVa had more than 15 receptions last year.
Latrell Scott, who coached the Wahoos’ receivers in 2009, is now the head man at the University of Richmond. But it hasn’t taken long for Scott’s replacement at UVa, Shawn Moore, to develop an appreciation for Burd’s ability.
“He’s the savviest guy in the bunch. He’s the guy with the most football experience in the bunch,” said Moore, a former UVa quarterback who in 1990 finished fourth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.
“He might not be the most talented — he might not be the playmaker that Timmy is, he might not have the speed that Dontrelle has — but he’s the savviest, toughest one of the bunch.
“He’s a football player. He reminds me of the UVa, college version of Hines Ward. That’s exactly what he is.”
Burd’s classmates include Minnifield, and they trained with and against each other all summer.
“Burd’s one of the quickest players I’ve ever played against,” Minnifield said. “He’s got a very good feel for route running, he’s got a very good feel for getting off press [coverage]. He’s a very smart player.”
The ‘Hoos have a new head coach, Mike London, and a new offensive coordinator, Bill Lazor. Lazor is the third coordinator for whom Burd has played at UVa.
“I feel like the offense is coming along pretty well,” Burd said after practice Monday. “We got a lot to install every week, so you really gotta get in your playbook every night. We’re really starting to click on the small things that make an offense great.”
Lazor’s predecessor, Gregg Brandon, was hired to install a spread offense, which on paper seemed to bode well for UVa’s receivers. But the spread sputtered, and then-coach Al Groh switched back to a more traditional offense after the second game last year.
The Cavaliers moved the ball better after the change than they had in Brandon’s scheme, but still finished the season ranked 118th nationally (out of 120 teams) in total offense. Burd believes Lazor’s pro-style offense, with its emphasis on establishing the run, will produce better results.
“I feel like a balance gives us the best chance to win,” he said.
And that’s what he’s focused on. He wouldn’t mind being mentioned among the ACC’s top wideouts, ‘but I just want to win, man,” Burd said.”
As a first-year player who was redshirting, he watched the ‘Hoos advance to the Gator Bowl in 2007 and finish 9-4. But UVa dropped to 5-7 in ’08 and to 3-9 last year.
“I just want to win,” Burd said. “I’m used to winning. We were winning all through high school, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win.”
So if that means playing on special teams for new coordinator Anthony Poindexter, sign Burd up. He’s eager to contribute in as many ways as possible.
“They shuffled a lot of [special-teams assignments around],” Burd said with a smile, “but I’ll be in Dex’s ear trying to get him to put me out there again.”