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2015 NFL DRAFT

Vontaze Burfict, ILB

School: Arizona State  |  Conference: PAC12
College Experience: Junior  |  Hometown: Corona, CA
Height/Weight: 6-1 / 248 lbs.
Projected Ranking
OverallPositionProj. Rnd.
243107
Latest News
04/25/2012 - As the 2012 NFL draft kicks off Thursday evening, players like Ohio State tackle Mike Adams (positive drug test) and Nebraska cornerback Alfonzo Dennard (allegedly punched a cop in the face) have recently made bad choices during the most important time of their careers. Add two more names to that list. According to Fox Sports' Jay Glazer, Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict and Virginia Tech cornerback JayRon Hosley have flunked drug tests of their own. Glazer writes that Hosley wrote a letter to teams apologizing for the transgression. For Burfict, though, this is just another black mark against him that could keep him from getting drafted at all. The fall of Burfict, who was once considered a player with first-round potential, has been dramatic. We wrote Tuesday that if he goes undrafted, the Arena Football League could be an option for him, and yeah, that's looking more possible by the day. Recently, Burfict -- who, in part, has blamed his coaches for his mediocre performance on the field last year -- did a radio show in Baltimore where he talked about the decline in his draft hopes. "The guy I am on the field, I'm not the same guy off the field," he said. "When I'm off the field, I'm more sitting down, more of a chill guy, don't do too much partying, and when I'm on the field I'm just angrier, don't like to lose, have a passion for the game and love to hit. Me and off the field are just two different things and people have it mixed up. They think I'm the same people off the field and it's totally different. - Josh Katzowitz, CBS Sports

04/17/2012 - Vontaze Burfict's stock continues to plummet, as agent Charles Price told TheDaily.com that his client doesn't have any private meetings scheduled with teams heading into next week's draft. It continues a rocky pre-draft circuit for Burfict, who was a semifinalist for the Butkus Award and once considered a potential first-round pick. He is now projected as a fifth- or sixth-round pick by NFLDraftScout.com, and with mounting concerns coupled with the decreased value placed on inside linebackers, Burfict might fall out of the draft completely. Known for his hair-trigger temper at Arizona State that resulted in a locker room scuffle with a teammate and 17 personal fouls over his career, Burfict arrived at the Scouting Combine desperately needing a strong showing. But during his media session he said the Arizona State "coaches kind of messed me up" last season, and followed that with an extremely poor workout. Burfict's 5.08-second 40-yard dash time was the slowest among linebackers at the Combine, and slower than 36 of the 48 defensive linemen at the event. He also labored through the short shuttle in 4.65 seconds. "I blame myself, it was just immaturity," Burfict said last month of his Combine performance, saying he could have worked harder. "I'm growing up and realizing what the world is about and I've just got to work harder in everything I do." Burfict declined to run the 40 during his first pro day in mid-March, raising even more eyebrows. He managed to improve his 40 time to 4.80 seconds at his second pro day on March 30 while bench pressing 225 pounds 16 times, but his second 4.65 timing in the short shuttle was alarming considering Burfict has dropped more than 10 pounds since the end of last season. - Derek Harper, The Sports Xchange

04/16/2012 - Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict hasn't been invited for a visit with any NFL teams, his agent, Charles Price, told The Daily on Sunday. In September of last year, USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin described Burfict as "unbelievable." "He's going to be playing on Sundays, there isn't any doubt about that," said Kiffin, who was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ' defensive coordinator from 1996 to 2008 and spent 13 years on other NFL staffs. But after collecting 17 personal fouls in three seasons with the Sun Devils, and a poor performance at February's NFL Scouting Combine, Burfict's alleged attitude problems on and off the field have dropped him to becoming potentially undrafted. "I'm not a fan at all," NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock said after Burfict's combine performance. At the combine, Burfict posted the worst 40-yard dash time (5.09 seconds) and also recorded the worst broad jump of any linebacker in attendance. He did, however, improve his 40 time to 4.80 seconds at his pro day in Arizona in March. Burfict also did 16 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press. - NFL.com

04/11/2012 - The Cleveland Browns lead the NFL with 13 selections in this month's draft, and general manager Tom Heckert might be willing to take a risk with one of those picks. The Browns have shown interest in drafting Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict, multiple sources told told ESPN Cleveland on Tuesday. "(Burfict) would be a late-round value pick," one source told the site. The Butkus Award semifinalist is known for his attacking, physical play, but also for a lack of discipline that cost Arizona State on and off the field. Burfict generated negative press in 2011 for a locker-room scuffle with teammate Kevin Ozier, a wide receiver. I sat in on a conversation with Burfict at the combine where he said he learned from the incident. In the same conversation, Burfict cast blame on his college coaches for an "average" junior season. "The coaches kind of messed me up, like, I didn't know if I was going to start a game, I didn't know if I was going to be benched," Burfict said. "So, it hurt me at times, but I tried to fight through it." - Marc Sessler, NFL.com

04/07/2012 - Have you guys seen a player like Vontaze Burfict, from Arizona State, drop as drastically as he has? (Stan Charles)...(HORTIZ) "There are years where guys do drop. A guy can get a lot of hype built up on him. He just hasn't tested well; he hasn't performed well in the measuring sticks off the field. It happens from time to time. He's had a pretty good fall based off of where he was in during the season in the Top 25's and mock drafts and all that. A lot of that is just off the hype that is built up going into that season [when] the study hasn't been done on him. Sometimes it happens. Sometimes guys fall off. If you take Mel [Kiper]'s - not to single Mel out - but if you anyone's Top 25 this time last year or right after the draft and put it up against what it looks like this year, it's a lot different. Guys do fall. It's just he's a junior who came out with a lot of buzz and he's had such a hard time that the media is swallowing it up and eating it and running with it. It happens, but this one seems a little bit more magnified."...(DECOSTA) "What I would say is we don't drop him; you guys drop him. We watch the tape, and we know where they belong. We look at all the various things and say, 'That's crazy. That's never going to happen.' And usually it ends up that way, but we just watch the tape. We don't have any kind of a flowing list where a guy goes from being second in the draft to being 100th in the draft overnight. Nobody knows, but it doesn't work like that for us." - Baltimore Ravens.com

03/21/2012 - 03/20/12 NFL DRAFT SCOUT FALLER: Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State: This isn't the first time Burfict has made the "fallers" list, but his draft stock continues to tumble with every test. He produced extremely disappointing numbers and poor reviews from the interview process at the Combine, turning off NFL decision makers and coaches. And at Arizona State's pro day, he didn't do much to change the minds of his doubters. He ran a 4.65, which would be great in the 40-yard dash, but unfortunately it was his short shuttle number. At the Combine, Burfict's 40-yard dash numbers were north of 5.00 and as NFLDraftScout's Rob Rang pointed out "that's not only the slowest among all Combine linebackers, it was also slower than 36 of the 48 defensive linemen tested in Indianapolis this year." Burfict did work out on the bench press, something he didn't do at the Combine, but produced only 16 reps. With Sun Devils quarterback Brock Osweiler not working out until March 30, Burfict is expected to get one more try to salvage his draft stock. - Dane Brugler, NFLDraftScout.com

03/17/2012 - Arizona State Pro Day: Burfict participated in some of the shuttle drills and leaps but surprised scouts with his unwillingness to run the 40-yard dash. Burfict ran in this drill at the Combine. His workout in Indianapolis, however, was terrible. The 6-1, 248 pound linebacker, who had been characterized as a possible first round candidate by some, was clocked at 5.08 seconds in the 40-yard dash. That's not only slowest among all Combine linebackers, it is also slower than 36 of the 48 defensive linemen tested in Indianapolis this year. The results weren't any better Friday.Burfict was clocked at 4.65 seconds in the short-shuttle, for example. That too would have ranked dead last among linebackers tested in Indianapolis, and folks, it isn't even close. Of the 21 linebackers tested in Indianapolis in this drill, North Carolina State's Terrell Manning was the slowest--and he was at 4.43 seconds. Another example of Burfict's struggles came during the bench press drill. For a player whose best asset on tape has been occasional examples of explosiveness, Burfict proved surprisingly weak Friday, lifting the bar just 16 times. That, by comparison, is better than only two of the 29 linebackers who tested in this event in Indianapolis this year. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

03/17/2012 - Vontaze Burfict, Gerell Robinson and Omar Bolden headlined the participants at this year's Arizona State Pro Day held at Sun Devil Stadium Friday. More than 40 NFL scouts and coaches were in attendance with notepads and stopwatches in hand, including Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis and Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton. Burfict, who has another Pro Day scheduled for March 30, was trying to bounce back from a disappointing showing at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis last month. Burfict unofficially put up 16 reps of 225 pounds on the bench press, which isn't a lot for a player of his size. "It went average," Burfict said of his Friday performance. "I've got another one on the 30th, so that gives me 14 days, so I'll be in better shape. I thought I was in shape today, but I could be way more (in shape)." Burfict weighed in at 249 pounds, after playing last season close to 260 pounds. The former Sun Devil said he'd like to get down to 245. The usually media-shy Burfict was also asked about his performance in Indianapolis and admitted he could have worked harder to prepare. "I blame myself, it was just immaturity. I'm growing up and realizing what the world is about and I've just got to work harder in everything I do," he said. - Vince Marotta, Arizona Sports

03/16/2012 - NFL Draft Scout Top Inside linebackers: *Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State, 6-1, 248, 3-4...Burfict rhymes with perfect, but that is only a coincidence. When he graduated from Centennial High School in California, Burfict was touted as the best prep middle linebacker in the country. It has been mostly downhill since then. Burfict has displayed the ability of a first-round prospect, but as an overall package some teams say they won't draft him, period. On the field he flashes excellent instinct and ferocity. He diagnoses and blows up plays with brutish hits, against the run and even as a pass-rusher. But he committed so many unnecessary and ill-timed penalties that he was actually kept off the field at times in college. He reportedly even punched a smaller teammate in the locker room. Last year Burfict led ASU with 68 tackles, but when he failed to make even the conference honorable mention list, it was thought that his bad conduct was the reason. At the combine, scouts wanted questions answered about his maturity and athleticism. He had all the wrong answers. He blamed ASU coaches for his inconsistent 2011 season and then he flopped in workouts, including an unofficial 40-yard time of 5.03 seconds, slowest among linebackers. To be clear, he has the ability to play. It will be interesting to see who gives him a chance and if/how he takes advantage of it. - Frank Cooney, The Sports Xchange/NFLDraftScout.com

02/29/2012 - 2012 NFL COMBINE FALLERS: Vontaze Burfict, ILB, Arizona State: After characterizing himself as misunderstood, Burfict raised more than few eyebrows during interviews with the media by blaming the ASU coaching staff for his erratic play in 2011. He then proved much less athletic in drills than scouts had hoped, registering a 5.09 40 that finished dead last among linebackers tested in Indianapolis this year. - Rob Rang/NFLDraftScout & Derek Harper/The Sports Xchange

02/27/2012 - Over the weekend in Indy, I spoke to a few NFL scouts and assistants about some draft hopefuls. I'm not sure any player here sparked a worse reaction than Vontaze Burfict. Seems the Arizona State linebacker has gone from being plagued by yellow flags to eliciting red ones now. "I wouldn't touch him," said one scout. "He does have some talent, but he is so undisciplined on and off the field. The guy is completely out of control. There's no way you could trust him. I can't believe they (ASU coaching staff) didn't cut him loose." Burfict, who measured in at 6-feet-3, 248 pounds (about 12 under his playing weight this season, he said), has received a lot of hype over his college career. Much of it stemmed from some of his thunderous hits, but it was his recklessness that also dogged him and the Sun Devils from his first season at ASU to his last. He was selected to some all-American teams as a sophomore in 2010, but didn't even earn All-Pac-12 honors in 2011 before he opted to enter the draft as a junior, when he made just 69 tackles on a team that many thought would win at least 10 games but instead finished just 6-7. "I played average," Burfict explained to reporters in Indy. "I could've played better. That's what hurt me at times. 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." NFL personnel folks cringe when they hear a player publicly put some of the blame on his coaches. "You just scratch your head at some of the knucklehead things he does on tape," said one NFL coach. "It was the same thing over and over and over again with him. He seemed to personify why that team always seemed to underachieve." - Bruce Feldman, CBS Sports

02/27/2012 - Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict entered the Combine needing to answer questions about his maturity and athleticism. He may have failed at both. Burfict raised more than a few eye-brows when he blamed the ASU coaching staff (which was led by former two-time NFL head coach Dennis Erickson) for his inconsistent play in 2011 during his interview with the media Sunday. He then proceeded to run slower than any other linebacker tested at the Combine in the 40-yard dash, registering a 5.09 second time that was beaten by 36 of the 48 defensive linemen including 346 pound Dontari Poe. A troubling lack of overall explosion was also shown with a 30" vertical jump, a number beaten by all but two linebackers in Indianapolis. Burfict was tied by Montana's Caleb McSurdy for second to last in the event, beating Southern California's Chris Galippo (29.5") by just half an inch. Characterized as an elite talent deserving of first round consideration by some in the media, Burfict is rated as the No. 88 prospect in the draft by NFLDraftScout.com and that may be generous. Frankly, few teams may be willing to invest anything higher than a Day Three selection in the boom or bust linebacker considering his lackluster performance. - NFLDraftScout.com

02/26/2012 - Every prospect with some skeletons in the closet is coached up by his agent to make a strong PR move at the Combine. Former Florida cornerback Janoris Jenkins admitted the last time he smoked marijuana, for example, as part of an extremely forthright media session Sunday. Arizona State LB Vontaze Burfict was laid back and very "Yes sir, no sir," although he wasn't exactly apologetic about his penchant for penalties on the field and issues with the Sun Devils coaching staff off it. "I'm a soft-spoken guy, shy," he said. "But when I'm on the field I hate to lose." Burfict's ASU's career was marred by a slew of personal foul penalties that hurt his draft stock. He also had an altercation in the locker room with a teammate - he said it began with an argument in a 7-on-7 drill - and he left school a year early after a very strained relationship with former ASU coach Dennis Erickson's staff. Burfict is the No. 3-ranked inside linebacker by NFLDraftScout.com and the No. 88 prospect overall. He'll need to convince scouts that he is an impact player who can control his aggression to avoid slipping into the third or fourth round. "I just know I'm the best linebacker in this draft," said Burfict, who added that he patterns his game after the Ravens' Ray Lewis and the Bills' Nick Barnett. - NFLDraftScout.com

02/22/2012 - Burfict is prone to facemask penalties, head-butts and cheap shots. He was benched two seasons ago due to an incredibly high amount of personal foul penalties. Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson knows Lewis from his days at the University of Miami and once arranged for Burfict to speak with the NFL star. "They're both fired-up guys," Erickson said before last season. "Ray is obviously very mature at this point in his life. They've talked. I wanted Vontaze to relate to what those great players were all about. That's his idol, man. That's his man. "There aren't too many better. He's a long way from Ray Lewis. Ray plays the game the way it should be played." A big, strong linebacker at 6-3, 252 pounds, Burfict's lack of discipline extends to his off-field conduct. Burfict allegedly punched a smaller teammate in the locker room. The former blue-chip recruit also has a history of academic problems. As the Ravens search for a potential successor to Lewis, they should probably look in a different direction than Burfict. For the Ravens, big Alabama inside linebacker Dont'a Hightower is another intriguing possibility who has drawn high grades. - The Sports Xchange

02/22/2012 - Arizona State junior middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict grew up idolizing Ravens Pro Bowl middle linebacker Ray Lewis, trying to embody Lewis' intimidating style. "You've got to compare yourself to the greatest," Burfict once said. "I compare myself to him." However, Burfict's grand ambitions of mirroring the game of the two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year appear to be unrealistic. Lewis' accomplishments, skill and discipline are in heavy contrast to the raw Burfict. A consensus All-American as a sophomore, Burfict wasn't even an all-conference selection last season. Often losing his temper and piling up penalties, Burfict has displayed serious flaws in his game and attitude. Now, he's not regarded as a first-round draft target for NFL teams. "I'm not a fan at all," NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock said during a conference call. "I just watched a bunch of his tape the other day. I came away unimpressed. His instincts aren't good. "He gets enveloped by bigger bodies and he runs around blocks. For a big, strong guy, he's nowhere near as strong at the point of attack as I thought he'd be. I don't see first round at all." - The Sports Xchange

02/21/2012 - 2012 NFL COMBINE, PLAYERS WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE: Vontaze Burfict, MLB, Arizona State: Since he first stepped foot in Tempe, Burfict has garnered comparisons to Ray Lewis for his ferocious hitting and short-area burst. But his undisciplined outbursts and fits of rage have also been well-documented, leading to strong concerns about coachability and maturity. Even more troubling to some is his lack of consistency and production. Burfict will need to do some major damage control in face-to-face interviews to secure a top-100 pick. - NFLDraftScout.com

01/04/2012 - The 6-foot-3, 250-pound junior middle linebacker will not return to the Sun Devils for his senior season. His time in Tempe likely will be remembered for his bone-jarring hits, but also for unmet expectations and a temper that often resulted in unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties. "After thoughtful and in-depth discussions with my family, I have decided to skip my final year of eligibility at Arizona State University and make myself eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft," Burfict said in a statement released Tuesday. "I would like to thank every one of my coaches and professors at ASU. I plan to return to ASU and get my degree and I will always support the university and its football program. I cherish the memories and great times I had as a student-athlete at ASU and I hope to make the university proud of my future accomplishments on and off the field." A preseason All-American, Burfict posted 69 tackles this season, second most on the team. He had five sacks and seven tackles for loss. He also intercepted a pass and recovered a fumble. At season's end, Pac-12 coaches left him off the conference's first and second teams, and didn't even reward Burfict with honorable mention. Still, Burfict's potential and talent make him a possible first-round pick in April's NFL draft. - Doug Haller, The Arizona Republic

01/04/2012 - The 6-3, 250 pound Burfict thanked fans and teammates for the memories he's had at Arizona State and wrote that he'll be "expanding [his] talents to the next level." Burfict erased any doubt about his intentions Tuesday afternoon in releasing a prepared statement. The statement reads: "After thoughtful and in-depth discussions with my family, I have decided to skip my final year of eligibility at Arizona State University and make myself eligible for the 2012 NFL Draft. I would like to thank every one of my coaches and professors at ASU. I plan to return to ASU and get my degree and I will always support the university and its football program. I cherish the memories and great times I had as a student-athlete at ASU and I hope to make the university proud of my future accomplishments on and off the field." Outgoing head coach Dennis Erickson characterized Burfict's junior season as "average." There may not be a more accurate way of putting it. While Burfict certainly has the hype and talent to warrant leaving school early, quite frankly he's been a disappointment over the past two seasons. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

01/03/2012 - Burfict is explosive. He can rock ball-carriers in the hole, is particularly adept rushing the quarterback and plays with a ferocity that could quickly make him a fan favorite. As you'll read in our official NFLDraftScout.com profile for Burfict, there are plenty of aspects about his game that translate well to the next level. However, he has been prone to immature behavior that has cost his team penalties at critical stages of games throughout his career. He's not as instinctive as his reputation might lead you to believe, has a soft build and hasn't shown any real improvement since first stepping onto the ASU campus. As such, he's currently ranked third in our rankings of inside linebacker prospects. Quite frankly, I think he's as overrated a prospect as there is in the country. He may prove me wrong. He certainly has talent to do so. However, Burfict won't soon get added to my ranking of the top 32 prospects in the draft. Burfict, in fact, wouldn't make my list if the Big Board contained twice as many players. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

01/03/2012 - According to multiple reports, Mississippi State defensive lineman Fletcher Cox, Rutgers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Illinois defensive end Whitney Mercilus, North Carolina State outside linebacker Terrell Manning and a trio from Stanford -- quarterback Andrew Luck, offensive tackle Jonathan Martin and offensive guard David DeCastro have all announced their intentions for the 2011 season to be their last as amatuers. Add to that list Arizona State inside linebacker Vontaze Burfict -- at least according to his facebook page. The 6-3, 250 pound Burfict thanked fans and teammates for the memories he's had at Arizona State and wrote that he'll be "expanding [his] talents to the next level." Outgoing head coach Dennis Erickson characterized Burfict's junior season as "average." There may not be a better way of putting it. While Burfict certainly has the hype and talent to warrant leaving school early, quite frankly he's been a disappointment over the past two seasons. For a player nationally known as an intimidator, Burfict only registered 69 tackles (including seven for loss) in 2011, along with one interception and one fumble recovery. He was not recognized by Pac-12 coaches as a first, second or even honorable mention player following his junior season. This is quite a drop from Burfict's 2010 season in which he led the team with 90 tackles and earned Second Team accolades. It is an even bigger disappointment considering that in 2009 he was named the Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year. - Rob Rang, NFLDraftScout.com

12/22/2011 - PLAYERS TO WATCH: LB Vontaze Burfict had a disappointing season after being pegged as the preseason Defensive Player of the Year in some publications. What is his state of mind after sitting out the final 24 minutes of the regular-season finale against Cal after he picked up two personal foul penalties? Coaches had talked in spring about a more-focused, more-mature Burfict this season. That didn't really come to pass. He leads ASU with 68 tackles but didn't even earn honorable mention all-conference honors. - The Sports Xchange

12/19/2011 - Arizona State junior middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict ranks No. 15 on ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr.'s Big Board and he was the No. 1 college prospect at middle linebacker coming out of high school. His talent has been overshadowed this season by his lack of discipline. He was benched for the final 24 minutes of the regular-season finale against California after committing two personal fouls. He started bowl prep with the second team in practice and coach Dennis Erickson said he'll have to earn his playing time. Last year, Burfict made 90 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss. This year, he leads the team with 68 tackles, five sacks and seven tackles for loss. "He just didn't play like he did the year before," Erickson told the Arizona media. Earlier this season, Sun Devils defensive coordinator Craig Bray told the Arizona Republic that Burfict wasn't playing with enough anger as he tried to please those - including his coaches - who felt he crossed the line at times. Fellow linebacker Colin Parker says Burfict is misunderstood. "He's out there trying to play the way he's always played - aggressive and physical," Parker said. "I actually think he's grown up a lot the last three years." - Chadd Cripe, The Idaho Statesman

09/15/2011 - TOP 10 MOST EXCITING PLAYERS IN COLLEGE: 5-Vontaze Burfict, ASU, LB: Arguably the hardest-hitter in college football, Burfict's battle to straddle the edge has been fascinating the past few years. He and his teammates have been prone to being self-destructive, but there have been some signs of maturation. Thus far this season, he already has four sacks in two games. - Bruce Feldman, CBSSports.com

09/09/2011 - PLAYERS TO WATCH: In terms of his physical ability, aggressiveness and ferocious hitting, ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict often is compared to Baltimore Ravens star Ray Lewis. The two talked a few months ago. "I just spoke with him about discipline and how you need to make up your mind in life and on the field," Lewis told the Arizona Republic. "Make sure that you are doing the right things to be a productive player and more importantly, a productive person." - The Sports Xchange

09/01/2011 - PLAYERS TO WATCH: LB Vontaze Burfict - The hype could not be any higher, as Burfict was selected the national Defensive Player of the Year by more than one preseason publication. That was based on his vast potential and a belief that his worst behavior on the field is behind him. We'll see. He'll help himself and his team by keeping his cool and letting his ferocious tackling do his talking. - The Sports Xchange

08/28/2011 - Depending on who you ask, Arizona State is considered either the best team or the second-best team in the Pac-12 South. Either way, that makes the Sun Devils the favorite to reach the first conference championship game. USC let's call the Trojans the co-favorite in the South are ineligible for the postseason and can't play in the Pac-10 title game. ASU coach Dennis Erickson got plenty of laughs at the conference media day when he was asked about the potential of finishing second in the South and still being able to play for the league title. "I don't care," he said. "A lot of things in life you take any way you can get it, you know?" For a program such as ASU, which has gone through three consecutive bowl-less seasons, it will take all the advantages it can get. Of course, the Devils could flat-out win the South on their own merits, and there is enough experience and talent returning to think they manage to do that. The defense is led by junior heat-seeker Vontaze Burfict, a linebacker who earned plenty of preseason national Defensive Player of the Year honors. The offensive line is finally stabilized, and the spread passing attack enters its second season under coordinator Noel Mazzone, so things should go even more smoothly than last season, when the Devils averaged a healthy 32.3 points per game. - The Sports Xchange

08/28/2011 - MOST IMPORTANT PLAYER: LB Vontaze Burfict can be hot-headed, reckless and undisciplined, but no one doubts his talent and he earned offseason praise from the coaching staff for his improved dedication and maturity. We'll see. He'll be the center of the defense and the leader of an excellent linebacker corps that returns two other starters. If ASU's defense has any kind of a "fear factor," it's because of Burfict, and if he controls his emotions, he'll be a game-changing defender. - The Sports Xchange

07/19/2011 - 2011 WALTER CAMP PLAYER OF THE YEAR PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona State, Junior, has been named one of 40 players selected to the Walter Camp Football Foundation Preseason Watchlist for the 2011 college football season. The 2011 Walter Camp Player of the Year recipient, which is voted on by the 120 NCAA Bowl Subdivision head coaches and sports information directors, will be announced live on ESPN SportsCenter on Thursday, December 8. Burfict, a 6-3, 252-pound junior from Corona, California, has found his name on many preseason lists. He was named a Playboy First Team All-American and Phil Steele's First Team All- American in addition to being named the Blue Ribbon Magazine Preseason National Defensive Player of the Year. He is also on the watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award, the Butkus Award and the Bednarik Award. The linebacker led ASU in 2010 with 90 tackles, including 54 solos. He added 8.5 quarterback sacks for minus 18 yards, had three pass breakups and forced two fumbles. - Arizona State football

07/18/2011 - 2011 BUTKUS AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Vontaze Burflict, Arizona State, has been selected one of 51 linebackers named to the 2011 Butkus Award Preseason Watch List for the 2011 college football season. The award is handed out annually to the top linebacker in college football. Burfict, a 6-3, 252-pound junior from Corona, California, has found his name on many preseason lists. He was named a Playboy First Team All-American and Phil Steele's First Team All- American in addition to being named the Blue Ribbon Magazine Preseason National Defensive Player of the Year. He is also on the watch lists for the Bronko Nagurski Award, the Lombardi Award and the Bednarik Award. The linebacker led ASU in 2010 with 90 tackles, including 54 solos. He added 8.5 quarterback sacks for minus 18 yards, had three pass breakups and forced two fumbles. Burfict is one of five from the Pac-12 on the Watch List. - Arizona State football

07/13/2011 - 2011 ROTARY LOMBARDI AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Vontaze Burfict, LB, Arizona St., (2nd Team All-Pac 10, led ASU with 90 tackles), has been selected to the Rotary Lombardi Award Preseason watch list for the 2011 college football season. Eligibility for the Rotary Lombardi Award is limited to down linemen, end-to-end, either on offense of defense, who set up no farther than 10 yards to the left or right of the ball, and linebackers who set up no father than five yards deep from the line of scrimmage. This is the 42nd year that the Rotary Lombardi Award has named the nation's college lineman of the year. - The Rotary Lombardi Award Committee

07/11/2011 - 2011 BRONKO NAGURSKI TROPHY PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State, LB, has been selected one of 87 players named to Preseason Bronko Nagurski Trophy Watch List for the 2011 college football season. The Bronko Nagurski Trophy is awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player by the Football Writers Association of America and the Charlotte Touchdown Club. Burfict led ASU in 2010 with 90 tackles, including 54 solos. He added 8.5 quarterback sacks for minus 18 yards, had three pass breakups and forced two fumbles. - Arizona State football

07/08/2011 - 2011 CHUCK BEDNARIK AWARD PRESEASON WATCH LIST: Vontaze Burfict, Arizona State, LB, Jr., has been selected by the The Maxwell Football Club to the Chuck Bednarik Award Watch List for the 2011 college football season, given annually to the best defensive player. Burfict, a 6-3, 252-pound junior from Corona, California, has found his name on many preseason lists. He was named a Playboy First Team All-American and Phil Steele's First Team All-American in addition to being named the Blue Ribbon Magazine Preseason National Defensive Player of the Year. He is also on the watch list for the Bednarik Award. The linebacker led ASU in 2010 with 90 tackles, including 54 solos. He added 8.5 quarterback sacks for minus 18 yards, had three pass breakups and forced two fumbles. - Arizona State football

06/05/2011 - PLAYERS TO WATCH IN 2011: LB Vontaze Burfict - He'll be playing for his draft status as a true junior in 2011. He has all the physical tools, but he'll help himself if he plays with more emotional control. - The Sports Xchange

 
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04/26/2012 - The Republic had a scheduled interview with Burfict on Wednesday, but a representative from his agent's office called to postpone. It does appear, however, that he spoke with Aaron Wilson of Scout.com. According to Wilson's report, Burfict didn't confirm or deny the failed drug-test report, but he did admit to using marijuana in the past. "I talked to some teams, and I told them I had smoked marijuana before," Burfict said. "It's not like I'm the only person that has ever done that." Asked if he still smokes marijuana, Burfict told Wilson: "No, of course not." He insists he has changed over the past few months. "I almost have a six-pack now," Burfict said. "The team that drafts me will see that my work ethic isn't questionable at all. I realize how much I really want this for my life. If I could have changed anything when I was in college, I would have been eating healthier. Now, I'm eating fish, chicken, broccoli. My endurance is much better. I usually run a mile each morning. "The team that picks me is going to get a leader on and off the field. I'm going to be a role model for the kids in the community. If teams pass on me, they're going to have to face me for the next 10 years. If they don't want me, they're going to miss out. I definitely feel like my best football is ahead of me." - Doug Haller, The Arizona Republic

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