Burnett Reflects on UCF Career

Joe Burnett (Reinhold Matay/AP)

A disappointing season for the Knights came to a close on Saturday with a borderline embarrassing 15-0 loss at the hands of formerly last place UAB. The game marked the final contest in white and gold for many great Knights including Joe Burnett.

"It's hard to believe, it's already hit me," said star corner Joe Burnett. "It's a reality check, we are fitting to move on."

Burnett will likely be moving on to the NFL, as he is projected as a late first, early second-day pick. The dynamic corner would excel in most zone coverage schemes, and according to Knights head coach George O'Leary, upwards of 80 scouts have visited the Knights facilities with much of their focus on Burnett.

Joe is not only valuable in the defensive secondary, but also as a kick returner. His fantastic return skills forced teams to scheme around him in the second half of the season as opponents were eager to give up field position to keep Burnett from the opportunity of a return.

Burnett has come a long way since his freshman year, and he reflected upon his first game as a Knight.

"When I came out that tunnel it was like a deer in the headlights. The stadium was packed. It was loud and it was crazy."

Prior to his final game when Burnett was forced to leave with a rib injury, Joe spoke about what the game would mean to him.

"I'm trying to leave with a good taste for the next year to come. You are always as good as your last game."

Joe's last game was obviously a disappointment, but he did manage to accomplish some goals despite the poor 4-8 finish.

"I am glad I came back," Burnett said. "The main reason I am glad I came back is graduating, I graduate next Monday."

Although Joe wanted to follow up last year's Conference USA Championship with another stellar season, it wasn't meant to be. Burnett says last year's title was one of his greatest achievements.

"The championship," Burnett said was his greatest on-field memory. "Another highlight that I will probably wrap up on December 15th, is graduating, I am really looking forward to that, it is very important to me, and it means a lot to my family as well."

Coach O'Leary, who has spent much of his career in the NFL gave Burnett some good advice about staying in school for one final year.

"I told Joe from the get go that he wasn't ready," O'Leary said. "I try to do what is right for the kids, if they are ready and can move on and have some success that way than fine. I told Joe from a maturity stand point that he wasn't ready."

Joe will have an opportunity in the Senior Bowl and many of the offseason workouts to raise his draft stock. With current Knights in the NFL playing well such as Asante Samuel and Brandon Marshall, taking a chance on Burnett won't be much of a stretch for NFL execs.

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