Varsity Kansas

Morgan Burns follows faith's course

If Trinity Academy senior Morgan Burns wanted to, he would have every reason to walk around as though he's the man.

Burns is one of the area's top sprinters, winning the Class 4A 100 and 200 meters in 2009 as a sophomore. He was an All-Metro selection at running back as a junior, he's been offered football scholarships by Kansas State and Colorado State and leads Trinity with 1,168 rushing yards and an 11.1 yards-per-carry average.

But Burns prefers humility to boasting. He's gracious in defeat and quick to smile no matter the situation.

See, Burns knows he has a gift. And it's important to him to use that gift for a greater good.

"God has definitely blessed me with abilities," Burns said. "I've been in magazines and newspapers. He's given me those things to be an example to kids and people.

"I remember after a game, a kid asked, 'Can I have your autograph?' I don't want anyone to see a kid that's cursing with a bad attitude. I want to be a good example for kids and live it out for Christ."

Burns has strong beliefs, but he's not in your face with them. It's important to him to share his beliefs, but he wants to do it by how he lives.

And he's genuine.

"Sometimes people will say all the right things and do the lip-service," Trinity first-year coach Tyler Ryan said. "But seeing him on the football field, the way he carries himself and the example he sets in how he plays football — that's how he demonstrates his faith is through football.

"... I know he's very passionate about his faith. It's so refreshing to see someone of his athletic ability be that way."

Burns volunteers frequently, and has been on several missions. He's been to Nicaragua and to New York, where he stayed in a homeless shelter and worked with youths.

Burns also spoke at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes meeting in September.

"He's such an example of a Christian," said Kelly Thorne, an area representative for Fellowship of Christian Athletes. "We thought he would be a good example for the rest of the city."

Former Kansas basketball player Wayne Simien was the keynote speaker, and there were around 1,000 people at the event.

"I talked about my childhood and how I feel that I didn't use my abilities for God's glory," Burns said. "I started taking my faith seriously when I hit high school. I have to do it for him and his glory."

High school is also when Burns took off as a football player, even though Trinity didn't move from a club team to 11-man football until his sophomore season.

"In Little League football, I was always really fast, but I was the skinny guy," said Burns, who also plays basketball. "Some coaches always said, 'you will only make it in track because you're fast.' I wasn't the most physical kid."

That changed in high school. Burns started lifting weights seriously with his dad, Brad, the summer before his freshman season.

At 5-foot-10, 190 pounds, he can bull through the defense or outrace the defense.

"I've gotten bigger and tougher to bring down," said Burns, who went to football camps at Oklahoma State, Arkansas, Iowa, Iowa State and Texas Christian with teammate Austin Kessinger in the offseason. "I've focused on hitting the holes hard."

He's also worked on his defense. He playssafety, and at times he's had difficulty staying in pass coverage, preferring to inch toward playing the run instead.

"I think the potential with Morgan is unbelievable," Ryan said. "We threw a simple spot route to him the other night and he made a 10-yard gain.

"If he were in a more established program, you would hear more about him. But Morgan and Austin Kessinger, they've helped bring this program along to where it is now."