Perhaps the lone bright spot over the past few months for Florida State Seminoles football, junior defensive end Brian Burns was named as a semifinalist for the Bednarik Award, an award given to the nation's defensive player of the year on behalf of the Maxwell Football Club.
The list of semifinalists is made up of 20 players from 15 schools. There are players from each position on the defensive side of the ball, and Burns is one of six defensive ends to earn this elite-level distinction. If he were to win the award, he would be the first Seminole to do so in the history of the Bednarik Award.
Burns has been one of the best pass rushers in the nation since he freshman season, and his stats show that. He is tied for third in the country with nine total sacks and is tied for fifth in the country in sacks per game so far in 2018. Not only has his impressive junior season led to national attention for numerous awards, but he has also received a boost in draft stock.
How Does He Stack Up Against the Others?
It is impossible to go just by the stats. Some of the best players in the country don't get justice from their numbers, but the numbers a player puts up are also extremely important to handing out awards. Going by the numbers, Burns looks solid compared to the rest of the field and has posted those numbers against the best talent in college football. Burns hasn't filled up his stat sheets with sacks and tackles for loss aginst FCS opponents. Most of his stats have come against not only FBS teams, but in important ACC games for the Seminoles.
Brian Burns, DE, Florida State - 11.5 TFL, 9 sacks, 3 FF
Quinnen Williams, DT, Alabama - 8.5 TFL, 9 QB hits, 1 safety
Deionte Thompson, S, Alabama - 47 total tackles, 5 pass breakups, 2 FF
Zach Allen , DE, Boston College - 12.5 TFL, 5.5 sacks
Clelin Ferrell, DE, Clemson - 11.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 2 FF
Christian Wilkins, DT, Clemson - 6.5 TFL, 2 sacks
Jachai Polite, DE, Florida - 8.5 TFL, 7 sacks, 4 FF
Deandre Baker, CB, Georgia - 2 int., 81 yards, 8 passes defended
Ed Oliver, DT, Houston - 13.5 TFL, 3 sacks
Josh Allen, LB, Kentucky - 10 total sacks (all solo)
Jaylon Ferguson, DE, Louisiana Tech - 10.5 total sacks (1st in FBS), 2 FF
Grant Delpit, S, LSU - 4 sacks, 5 int. (2nd in FBS)
Devin White, LB, LSU - 76 total tackles, 7 TFL
Chase Winovich, DE, Michigan - 10 TFL, 3 sacks
Montez Sweat, LB, Mississippi State - 11.5 TFL, 9 sacks
Jeffery Simmons, NG, Mississippi State - 10.5 TFL
Jerry Tillery, NG, Notre Dame - 6.5 TFL, 6 sacks, 2 FF
Dre'Mont Jones, DT, Ohio State - 9 TFL, 5.5 sacks, 1 Int for TD, 2 FR
Byron Murphy, CB, Washington - 11 passes defended
Ben Burr-Kirven, LB, Washington - 122 total tackle (1st in FBS), 3 FF
The players I highlighted are the ones who stand out the most to me. It is tough to say that Burns is absolutely a finalist with so many players have outstanding seasons so far, but on November 19th, when the list is cut to three finalists, Burns has a really good shot of being one if he continues to make plays in opposing teams' backfields. Being on a struggling FSU team will make it extremely difficult to win the award, but it doesn't matter if he proves he is one of the best defensive players in the country.
Where Did He Come From?
The junior defensive end out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida by way of American Heritage High School has nine sacks this season, but also is seventh in FSU history in sacks with 22 in his career. Burns was rated as a four-star recruit out of high school and has been a force since he arrived on campus with 9.5 tackles for loss and 8.5 sacks as a freshman on his way to being names a Freshman All-American in 2016.
Expect to see a lot of No. 99 the rest of the season for the Seminoles, and regardless if the Bednarik Award ends up on his trophy case, don't be surprised when he's devouring quarterbacks at the next level in the NFL.
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