Bob Lutz: Second Burns could top the first

08/18/2013 9:32 PM

08/18/2013 9:32 PM

Tyler Burns is Morgan Burns’ little brother.

Morgan Burns had a tremendous athletic career at Wichita’s Trinity Academy, where he was a standout running back and defensive back, not to mention a state-champion sprinter. Now he’s at Kansas State, trying to earn some playing time in the defensive backfield.

Morgan looked like he might be a once-in-a-generation athlete at Trinity. Then along came Tyler, a 6-foot, 205-pound running back, defensive back and sprinter.

Sound familiar?

“I never saw Morgan when he played here,’’ said second-year Trinity coach Jared McDaniel, whose Knights were 4-5 in 2012. “But one of the questions all of the college coaches want to ask is whether Tyler is as fast as his brother.’’

The answer? It’s really close.

“At this moment, right now, he’s faster,’’ said Tyler, who rushed for 1,449 yards and 22 touchdowns last season.

But Morgan is also three years older.

Tyler Burns might just be on a faster track.

“The only thing I saw from Morgan are the highlights from TV,’’ McDaniel said. “So I don’t really know much. But from what I hear from opposing coaches and officials who have seen both of them play, some of them tell me they think Tyler was better as a sophomore than Morgan was as a senior.’’

Time will tell.

Even Tyler says he and his brother are so similar in the way they carry the football that it’s difficult to tell them apart.

Speed is certainly the main ingredient of Burns brothers effectiveness. But it’s not like they have to run away from would-be tacklers.

Morgan was just as happy to run through them and Tyler, who packs an even bigger punch, doesn’t mind contact, either.

“I’m a hard-nosed runner,’’ Tyler said. “I’m not going to give up on a run easily or go out of bounds. I don’t shy away from getting hit.’’

But how many times does Burns get hit hard during a season? It doesn’t happen that often because he’s as quick and shifty as he is strong. He’s a there-one-second, gone-the-next kind of back.

And if he can get some help from Trinity’s offensive line … if … he’s set to have a big, big season.

A season that could make his 1,400-plus yards from last season look like pocket change.

“Physically, we’re in a much better position to compete this year,’’ McDaniel said. “And Tyler’s going to help us the most because he’s another year into our system and more comfortable. He’s a game-changer for us. With one run, one catch, one interception, he can turn a game around. That’s not something a lot of guys at this level can do.’’

Burns is on the field almost as much as the yardage markers. He is a safety on Trinity’s defense, but really more of a center fielder. If a ball goes into the air, he tracks it like a guided missile.

But he doesn’t love playing defense nearly as much as he loves having the ball handed to him in the backfield, then trying to figure out a way to get as many yards as he can get.

Running with the football is Burns’ passion. He sees how his older brother was switched to defense at K-State and hopes the same thing doesn’t happen to him.

He also knows there are no guarantees. A player with his speed is like a Friday night buffet to a football coach. The possibilities are endless.

“I want to be a running back for life,’’ Tyler Burns said. “I know college football can be like a job because it’s such an every-day grind. I don’t think I’d want to be a defensive back for four years in college.’’

Burns expects better things from Trinity’s offensive line this season. It’s anchored by a senior, 220-pound Erik Hansen, and also includes a lot of unproven underclassmen.

“Erik will be a great left tackle,’’ Burns said. “We might have one hole to fill on the offensive line, but we have some good guys. I feel like we’re going to be solid there.’’

It’s not like Burns needs a gaping hole. Give him an inch and he’ll take 20 yards.

“And outside of the whole football thing, Tyler is just a great kid,’’ McDaniel said. “Whether Tyler is a great football player or not, he’s just a great person to be around.’’

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