The Stanford Cardinal just finished a run with one of the best quarterbacks in the history of their program in Andrew Luck. Just to make sure the next guy to go under center for Stanford doesn’t forget how big a deal Luck was, the team renamed their offensive coordinator position after him. It won’t be easy to follow up his stellar tenure at Stanford, but the Cardinal will keep their eye out for the next great quarterback, and they think they may have found a great one in quarterback Ryan Burns in their 2013 recruiting class. The problem: what if they didn’t?
Despite rave reviews from scouts and coaches, there are legitimate concerns about Burns, stemming largely from his mediocre junior season in high school. Last fall, Burns threw just 13 touchdowns and 14 interceptions while completing less than half of his passes. He wasn’t helped by his school’s extremely quarterback-unfriendly single-wing offense, which failed to utilize his strengths as a passer and also took away a year where he could be learning a system that would help him at the next level. Still, Stanford isn’t worried.
The Cardinal had their choice of top quarterback talent from the 2013 class. Top prep signal callers Max Browne, now committed to USC, and Alabama commit Cooper Bateman camped at Stanford in 2011 with Burns. Both of those quarterbacks were eager to get an offer and continue their careers in Palo Alto, but after much evaluation of these quarterback talents side by side and deliberation among the staff, Stanford and head coach David Shaw offered a single scholarship to Burns. He backed up their decision coming into the 2012 camp, where he shone above the field, which included a half-dozen BCS quarterback recruits in attendance. Burns impressed everyone with his displays of consistency, arm strength, and accuracy. Nobody who saw him throw doubted he had talent.
Others outside of Stanford have taken notice as well. Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien made Burns a priority recruit once he got the job at Happy Valley, as did nearly every major school in the Northeast. When Burns visited the Nittany Lions, the coach showed him film of him side by side with O’Brien’s other major quarterback student: New England Patriots and former Michigan Wolverine QB Tom Brady. Drawing comparisons to a three-time Super Bowl champion isn’t too shabby.
Trent Dilfer, who has nurtured a career after football as a quarterback guru, also effuses praise for Burns. He praises the compact delivery of the young quarterback, which allows him to deliver the ball quickly and with pinpoint accuracy. Dilfer invited Burns to his prestigious Elite 11 quarterback camp after watching him throw for the first time at Stanford’s camp, an offer Burns ultimately declined in favor of attending a team camp instead. Even so, Dilfer sees huge potential in the young signal caller.
So do the major prep All-Star games. It’s been four years since Stanford had a commit participate in either the Under Armour or Army All-American game, but Burns will end that drought as he secured invites to both. Despite the best efforts of ESPN to sway him to the Under Armour game, Burns eventually decided to accept the Army invite where he’ll play with fellow Stanford commit linebacker Peter Kalambayi.
The biggest hurdle facing Burns in transitioning to major college football is his lack of football experience. Playing in a single-wing offense hasn’t done much to prepare him for making the reads needed in a more sophisticated offense, like he’ll be running at Stanford. His coaches at Stone Bridge High School have said they’ll be transitioning to a more conventional attack which will better utilize Burns’ talents and aid his development.
Burns has used his opportunities to show his raw talent and potential to Stanford and scouts which has erased any concerns about his mediocre numbers in high school in a remedial offensive scheme. While there is no way to predict completely accurately how successful a quarterback prospect is going to be at the next level, but its easy to picture Burns being a big success at Stanford.
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