Prior to this past season, Vontaze Burfict had dreams of a Pac-12 Championship and possibly being a first round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft. Unfortunately the Pac-12 Preseason Defensive Player of the Year had an awful season in Tempe and that poor momentum has carried over to the pre-draft process. Burfict once looked like a player who had the world right in front of him after winning the genetic lottery, but instead his draft stock has fallen like a rock and there is a strong possibility seven rounds of the draft go by without his phone ringing.
If you turn on the highlight tapes you will see a vicious, punishing linebacker and start to salivate over the kinds of enforcement skills that he can bring to a defense. However, those plays were few and far between this past season at Arizona State. In reality, Burfict played undisciplined, racked up numerous personal foul penalties, missed a ton of tackles, looked disinterested at times and turned out to be the most overrated and overhyped player in the conference. Those problems along with his awful performance at the scouting combine and the perception that he has a poor work ethic and doesn’t respond well to coaching has turned Burfict into the most polarizing player in this year’s NFL Draft. Vontaze Burfict joined WNST in Baltimore with Glenn Clark to talk about how tough this pre-draft process has been for him, what he would like teams to know about him that they may not already, if the criticism that he has received bothers him, how frustrating last season was at Arizona State, how he responds to the criticism that he is not coachable, what he says to people that question his work ethic, if he has thought about what he will do if he goes undrafted.
How tough this pre-draft process has been for him:
“It’s been a hard preparation. I’ve just been working out, toning down my body, lifting weights, running miles every day, and just trying to keep up with conditioning so I can come into camp the best I can.”
What he would like teams to know about him that they may not already:
“Just hope that they know I’m a soft-spoken guy. The guy I am on the field, I’m not the same guy off the field. When I’m off the field, I’m more sitting down, more of a chill guy, don’t do too much partying, and when I’m on the field I’m just angrier, don’t like to lose, have a passion for the game and love to hit. Me and off the field are just two different things and people have it mixed up. They think I’m the same people off the field and it’s totally different.”
Whether the criticism he has gotten bothers him:
“No because I know who I am as a person and I know how my mom raised me. I just know whatever team picks me, they’ll get a great linebacker. Once they see me on the field and see me off the field they’ll be like ‘man the media had this guy totally wrong. He’s just such a great guy’ and stuff like that so there will be a lot of good words after this draft about me.”
How frustrating last season was at Arizona State:
“Yes sir. At the beginning of the season we went like 5-1 and then we ended up losing like five games straight. It was very frustrating for me because we had too many athletes on that team and for us to lose close games it was just very frustrating for me. Some of my immaturity kind of showed with getting personal fouls and stuff like that. I’ve learned from my past and I’m growing as a man, just looking past that, focusing on next year, and getting whatever team I play for to the Super Bowl.”
How he responds to people that say he doesn’t like to be coached:
“I think that’s totally wrong. I love being coached because I’m not the greatest athlete but I loved being coached. You get better at every little thing that you do so by me being coached I love to listen to what a coach has to say because obviously they’ve been there and done that so I think I’m very coachable, especially coming out of Arizona State because I had Trent Bray as my coach and he knew a lot about the game. I learned a lot from him but I also think I can learn more from somebody else in the NFL that knows what an offense will run before they come out and do it. I think that’s something that I already have and becoming a professional at it I think that would be amazing.”
How he responds to people that believe his work ethic is poor:
“Actually I think I work very hard. Like I said I weighed like 257 last season and right now I’m about 245. My work ethic this offseason has been amazing. Every morning I wake up and run a mile, I’m eating right, doing two workouts per day, running half a mile before I go to sleep so I think my work ethic, a lot of people don’t know what my work ethic is, because they’re not with me 24/7 but a lot of my stuff is pretty much what I do and I know what I do by myself.”
Whether he is worried about going undrafted:
“Not really because I have been working so hard and God knows how hard I’ve been working. I’m truly blessed just to be in the position that I’m in right now. If I don’t get drafted then I will have to go back to school, but I love football so much that I won’t give up on football. But I will go back to school and finish up my schooling and stuff like that and probably go somewhere else like Arena football or something but hopefully I make it to the NFL sir.”