Burlsworth killed in crash


Published Thursday, April 29, 1999

CARROLTON (AP) -- Former Arkansas offensive guard Brandon Burlsworth died in a car crash as he headed home to Harrison from Fayetteville, officials said.

Burlsworth, 22, a third-round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts on April 17, was driving on U.S. 412 when he became involved in the crash with two tractor-trailers, officials said. State police confirmed the death but would not release details of the wreck late Wednesday, saying it was under investigation.

Burlsworth's older brother and agent, Marty, said Brandon was on his way home for dinner at the time of the crash.

"I had just left my mom's when a state trooper came to her home and told her," Marty Burlsworth said. "He was a little late. We were only moderately concerned. But when I got the call on the cell phone, I knew, right then, what happened. We're just in shock."

The 6-3 1-4, 308-pound offensive guard had earned a master's degree in business administration while playing at Arkansas. He was a walk-on who rose to become a starter and earned All Southeastern Conference honors. He was a second-team All-American.

He attended an NFL combine last February and impressed scouts. Burlsworth ran a 40-yard dash in 4.88 seconds and recorded a 31.5-inch vertical leap.

Arkansas sports information director Rick Schaeffer said Burlsworth was the only player in Arkansas history to have gotten his master's degree before playing his last game, which was the Jan. 1 Citrus Bowl. Burlsworth had a master's degree in business administration.

Burlsworth said the day of the draft that his education -- and temperament -- would keep him from wildly spending his anticipated NFL salary.

"I've learned not to do that," Burlsworth told The Associated Press on April 17. "I'm really a tight individual by nature. I'll put that (money) up somewhere and let it grow."

Marty Burlsworth has seen the elation of draft day turn to despair.

"Basically it seems unreal," Marty Burlsworth said. "He was such a good guy. He worked so hard and sacrificed so much. It was all in front of him. It ended so suddenly."

Burlsworth had just returned from a mini-camp in Indianapolis. He had worked out in Fayetteville Wednesday and had lunch with a friend, Brent Bender.

Bender, whose father Mike coached Burlsworth for his first four years at Arkansas, said the two made plans at lunch for Bender to come to Indianapolis to see Burlsworth play.

"We were talking about old times," Brent Bender told the Northwest Arkansas Times in Fayetteville. "He couldn't believe how fortunate he was that things were working out for him like they had. Brandon was everything you wanted in a friend, a son and a football player. He was the total package."

University officials expressed similar sentiments.

"You never expect it. You never expect a 22-year-old to not be there," Schaeffer said.

Coach Houston Nutt had been informed of Burlsworth's death and issued a statement.

"We are stunned by this tragic news. You just can't believe it happened. We hurt for Brandon Burlsworth's family. There are no words that can describe the way we feel," Nutt said in a statement read by Schaeffer.

Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles said the university would work to honor Burlsworth's memory.

"We've been in a state of shock," Broyles said in a phone interview. "We're just ... saddened and offer our thoughts and prayers to the family."

He said he and the team's coaches would work to "honor Brandon for all that he stood for and all that he meant to this university."

Officials from the Indianapolis Colts had no immediate comment Wednesday night.