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Vontaze Burfict may be better than ever

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Vontaze Burfict is arguably the best defensive player in the country.

Despite the tremendous amount of success the Arizona State linebacker experienced during the first two years, he was held back and hampered by his immaturity and inability to control his emotions.

Now, entering his junior year, the 6-3 252-pound linebacker will be asked to lead the Sun Devils defense.

With Omar Bolden out due to injury, the Sun Devils will look to Burfict for guidance. Burfict will not be looked at by his teammates alone, as the eyes of the nation will be on him as well.

There is a tremendous amount of hype for Burfict’s name is popping up on watch lists across the country.

Burfict was named the Blue Ribbon Magazine Preseason National Defensive Player of the Year, a Playboy First Team All-American, a Phil Steele First Team All-American, a member of the Bednarik Award Watch List (best defensive player) and to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List (top defensive player),

The southern California product led the Sun Devils with 90 tackles, 54 solo, in 2010. He forced two fumbles, broke up three passes and accounted for eight and a half sacks.

Stats may not lie, but the often do not tell the entire story.

Burfict’s numbers are eye-popping, however some of his decisions are head scratching.

As good as Burfict’s numbers may have been a year ago, they could have been better.

Held back by personal fouls and outburst of anger, Burfict looks to be more mature coming into 2011, meaning his junior season could be his best yet.

Burfict has already embraced his new role as a leader. He has told the Arizona Republic’s Doug Haller that he is willing to step up.

He has shown an increased work ethic this season and knows all eyes are upon him.

Vontaze Burfict has been good in the past, but this season, with his leadership abilities, he may be even better and take his game to a whole new level.