Brandon Burlsworth
No. 77     
Personal information
Date of birth: (1976-09-20)September 20, 1976
Place of birth: Harrison, Arkansas
Date of death: April 28, 1999(1999-04-28) (aged 22)
Place of death: Alpena, Arkansas
Career information
College: Arkansas
NFL Draft: 1999 / Round: 3 / Pick: 63
Debuted in 1999 for the [[{{{debutteam}}}]]
Last played in 1999 for the [[{{{finalteam}}}]]
Career history
*Offseason member only (died in car accident)
Career highlights and awards
  • N/A
Games played     --
Games started     --
Fumble recoveries     --

Brandon Vaughn Burlsworth (September 20, 1976 – April 28, 1999) was an offensive lineman for the Arkansas Razorbacks football team from 1996-1998. He joined the team as a walk-on and eventually became an All-American. He was well known for his thick black glasses and his resemblance to comedian Drew Carey.

Football CareerEdit

Burlsworth graduated from Harrison (Arkansas) High School in 1994 and was a recruited walk-on football player at the University of Arkansas. He earned a scholarship his first year, and went on to become team captain, All-SEC 1997-1998, First Team All-SEC 1998, Football News First Team All-American in 1998, and the first All-American from the University of Arkansas in a decade. He was also named to the All-SEC Academic Honor Roll every year from 1995-1998.[1]

Burlsworth graduated from the University of Arkansas with bachelors and masters degrees. Brandon was the first Razorback football player to complete a masters degree before playing in his final game. Shortly after graduating, he was selected in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft by the Indianapolis Colts.

Brandon was elected to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame in 2002 and the UA Letterman's Association Hall of Honor in 2004.[2]


Eleven days after being drafted, he was killed in a car accident near Alpena, Arkansas on his way back to his hometown of Harrison one night after a workout in Fayetteville.[3] Houston Nutt, Arkansas Razorback Head Coach at the time, started the saying, "Do it the Burls Way", a saying that means do it the right way, even when no one is looking.

Burlsworth was buried on May 2, 1999, the day he was supposed to be picking out wedding rings with his fiancee.[2]


  • The Harrison Youth Center in Harrison, Arkansas, was renamed the Brandon Burlsworth Youth Center in May of 1999.
  • The Indianapolis Colts wore #66 on their helmets for the 1999 season.
  • His number 77 is retired at Arkansas and his locker is enclosed in a glass case in the Razorbacks locker room.[4]

Brandon Burlsworth FoundationEdit

After his death, family and friends established the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation in honor of his work ethic and Christian values.[5]

Burls KidsEdit

Today, through the "Burls Kids" program, the Burlsworth Foundation provides underprivileged youth a chance to attend Razorback and Colts football games. Since 2000, the Foundation has bought 30 tickets to each Arkansas Razorbacks home football game. The tickets are distributed through Razorback Clubs across the state. The children are given an official "Burls Kid" t-shirt and replica glasses similar to what Brandon wore on the field.[6]

Eyes of a ChampionEdit

In 2007, the "Eyes of a Champion" program was implemented. The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, in partnership with Walmart, provides eye care to thousands of pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade students whose working families are trying but still cannot afford extras like eye care and do not qualify for state funded programs.[7]

Football CampsEdit

The Brandon Burlsworth Football Camps are for youngsters going into 3rd grade through 9th grade. They are held once each summer at F.S. Garrison Stadium in Harrison, Arkansas, and War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Arkansas. Children are given a chance to learn from former Razorbacks. Past participants included Anthony Lucas, Clint Stoerner, Joe Dean Davenport, Madre Hill, Grant Garrett, Russ Brown, Barry Lunney Jr., Chad Abernathy, Michael Smith, Lucas Miller and others. The campers learn football skills but more importantly, they are taught throughout the day about character, attitude, morals, priorities and the desire to do it "The Burls Way."[8]

Scholarship and AwardsEdit

Each year the Brandon Burlsworth Foundation gives out several different awards and scholarships at various school levels. Each year, a total of $100,000 is awarded to recipients of The Brandon Burlsworth Memorial Scholarships at the University of Arkansas. Eighteen (18) students working towards their masters program and 1 football athlete are chosen. Continuing that tradition, the University awards the Brandon Burlsworth Award is given out yearly to one outstanding Senior male and female athlete.

High School awards include the Brandon Burlsworth High School Football Awards. Every high school football coach in Arkansas has the opportunity to nominate one player from the team. That players receives a plaque and an autographed copy of "Through the Eyes of A Champion" the Brandon Burlsworth story. An even greater honor, at the Arkansas state championships games in the fall, the Brandon Burlsworth Championship Award is presented to one player from each team for conduct above and beyond expectations.

Harrison (Arkansas) High School continues to award the Brandon Burlsworth Award to one male and female athlete who best exemplify the strength of character and work ethic known as "The Burls Way".[9]

Burlsworth TrophyEdit

In 2010, the Burlsworth Trophy was created and named in his honor.[10] The award is given yearly to the most outstanding Division I FBS college football player who began their career as a walk-on.

Biographical Book and MovieEdit

In 2001, the book “Eyes of a Champion, the Brandon Burlsworth Story” by Jeff Kinley was released.[11]

A screenplay titled “Greater” has been written based on the book. Morgan Casting Company was hired to cast the film and began holding open casting calls in March 2013 in Fayetteville, AR; Little Rock, AR; New Orleans, LA; and Canton, MS. Filming began on Monday, May 6, 2013, in Fayetteville, Little Rock and Farmington, AR with a six-week production shoot now underway (Arkansas Times). The screenplay was written by Brian Reindl, who is also producing the film; David Hunt is directing and Gabe Mayhan is Director of Photography. The producers anticipate that "Greater" could have a U.S. theatrical release in Fall 2014, although no distribution pacts have been announced.[12]


External linksEdit

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