TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 09: Linebacker Vontaze Burfict #7 of the Arizona State Sun Devils warms up before the college football game against the Missouri Tigers at Sun Devil Stadium on September 9, 2011 in Tempe, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The curious case that is Vontaze Burfict's NFL Draft odyssey continues.
We've covered at length his struggles with the Scouting Combine, his disappointing work at ASU's Pro Day and his slightly better showing at Brock Osweiler's workout. This has led the one-time first round lock to stumble into the danger zone of possibly being undrafted, a notion backed up by Burfict having not yet meet with any teams.
Not just wanting to point out the negatives, we then outlined a seven-step program for Burfict to rehab his image.
A recent radio interview with WNST in Baltimore shows that while Burfict's expectations and confidence are still sky-high (some would say bordering on delusional), he is beginning to prepare for a disastrous result come draft weekend.
He was asked whether the mounting criticism of the former preseason All-American was bothering him:
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."
It is true that "the real" Burfict has been somewhat obscured during his time at ASU, the he did not conduct any interviews with the media. This left the only outlet for impressions about his character to come from his uneven and out-of-control play on the field, and more recently through a bad pre-Combine interview.
Burfict had developed a reputation as a loose cannon whose sense of entitlement--fostered by head coach Dennis Erickson's lackadaisical style--rendered him uncoachable. In his pre-Combine interview, he then transfered the blame for his poor 2011 onto the coaching staff, saying, "The coaches kind of messed me up. I didn't know if I would start a game or be benched. It hurt me, but I tried to fight through it." However, Burfict had some interesting words to tell WNST.
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.
Hmmm, singing a different tune now.
Another major area of concern has been his work ethic and conditioning. Last season, Burfict had gained noticeable weight that result in his once lethal quickness being greatly reduced. He acknowledged the fact that he let himself go while simultaneously dismissing the notion of being lazy.
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.
Finally, the man who proclaimed two months ago that he was "the best linebacker in this draft" said he had plans in place if he should go undrafted.
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
The bottom line is that Burfict's story is a sad one on all counts. His upbringing was anything but normal and stable, and that certainly has a large effect on the situation. The former coaching staff at ASU has a hand in it as well, enabling Burfict's complacency and not getting his best effort or dedication.
But in the end, the responsibility is Burfict's. While he will be remembered as a supremely talented but major disappointment while a Sun Devil, he still has a chance to turn it around.
We here at House of Sparky wish him the best during the draft and that with some reform, good coaching and a lot of hard work and introspection, that Burfict will be making Sun Devil Nation proud on Sundays for years to come.
Read the full interview transcript here
Follow me on Twitter @BDenny29 for the latest on ASU football
What kind of NFL career will Vontaze Burfict have?
Hall of Famer (10 votes)
Long time starter, few Pro Bowls (43 votes)
Solid role player (68 votes)
Out of league in a few years (161 votes)
He'll never make it (87 votes)
369 total votes