For today’s countdown pick we take a step back in time to the beginning of the CPJ era on the Flats and look at LB Julian Burnett.
Burnett began his career with a team-high nine tackles against Jacksonville State and recorded 41 tackles in total which was seventh-best on the team in 2009. His burst onto the scene made him a rising star on the defense that won an ACC Championship that season and earned him a start in the Orange Bowl against Iowa.
He began the 2010 season on the bench and still went on to lead the team in tackles with 89. He started the year on special teams but started the final 8 games of the season creating four turnovers on the way with two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery, and an interception. He posted two 13 tackle games with the first coming against Virginia Tech and the second against Air Force in the Independence Bowl.
In the 2011 season, Burnett tied his career-best game in tackles against Virginia Tech with 13 total tackles, 1.5 for a loss, and a forced fumble. He was 2nd team all ACC following the season and led the team in tackles for the second straight year. Before the Sun Bowl against Utah, he had 44 more sacks than the number two spot on the defense.
Unfortunately, Burnett would be injured on a tackle during that Sun Bowl loss against Utah and that would be the final game he would play in for the Yellow Jackets. The injury was later disclosed to be a neck injury where Burnett had gone numb. He could have potentially played his senior season but made the decision to sit out for his health.
The injury was significant for the Jackets and Burnett’s absence on the defensive unit was felt throughout the 2012 season that had a void of senior leadership in a year that also saw a defensive coordinator fired in Al Groh. Burnett did go on to graduate from the Institute however and his LinkedIn page currently has him listed as an account manager with Coca Cola Company.