FAYETTEVILLE – Former University of Arkansas head football coaches Frank Broyles, Ken Hatfield and Danny Ford were among the dignitaries on hand to help announce the launch of the Burlsworth Trophy, college football’s newest national award set to honor the nation’s most outstanding walk-on.
In honor of Brandon Burlsworth, former Arkansas offensive lineman and walk-on, the award will be given to the nation’s most outstanding player who began their career as a walk-on. The Burlsworth Trophy is the second national award to originate from Arkansas, the first being the Broyles Award given to the nation’s most outstanding assistant coach at the collegiate level.
Brandon Burlsworth walked on to the Razorback team in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was drafted with the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children that have limited opportunities.
"Brandon was determined to play Division I football. I am so excited that the Burlsworth Trophy will recognize other student athletes who began their careers as walk-ons and exhibit that same determination," said Marty Burlsworth, executive director of the Burlsworth Foundation.
Former Razorbacks Jim Lindsey and David Bazzel joined University of Arkansas Vice Chancellor and Director of Athletics Jeff Long as participants in the official program. Several members of the Burlsworth family were in attendance at the press conference including Brandon’s mother Barbara, his brother Marty and his wife Vicki and Brandon’s nephew Joe Don Burlsworth.
"When Brandon came to the University of Arkansas he exceeded our expectations in every way what we as a coaching staff could imagine," said Ford. I am so thankful that this award is named after him in his memory and will be going to other student athletes who are as deserving. This is going to be an outstanding award to recognize walk-on athletes for years to come."
All Division I Football Bowl Subdivision collegiate coaches will have the opportunity to nominate one walk-on from their team annually that has shown outstanding and improved performance on the field. The player must receive no financial aid of any kind from their athletic department during his first season of participation with the team.
The nominees will be announced Nov. 17. Finalists will be named on Dec. 1 with the winner announced on Dec. 15. The winner receives the Burlsworth Trophy and a $2,000 scholarship in their name presented to their school. The winner will be honored at a luncheon in Springdale, Ark., on Feb. 7, 2011, presented by the Springdale Rotary Club.