How was your first day of spring practice?
Burnett: It went pretty good. Everyone was pumped and excited to be back out there practicing.
What have you been doing since your bowl game to the start of spring?
Burnett: We're just looking back at the bowl game, it helps motivate us running into spring. We look at the spring as a new 2009 Georgia Tech football team so we forget about everything that happened last year.
How about off the field? What do you do to keep busy in the off-season besides football and classes?
Burnett: Pretty much hang out with Joshua Nesbitt and just rest up, really, and get ready for the spring and ready for working out and classes.
Do you follow any of the sports teams in Atlanta? Are you a big sports fan?
Burnett: I like sports, I like watching the NBA. I like to follow LeBron James to see what he’s doing every night.
So you prefer LeBron over the hometown Hawks then?
Burnett: Yeah, I’ll go with LeBron.
What do you think of the pre-game celebration the Cavs do with the pictures?
Burnett: Yeah I like that, I like to see them having fun out there and it's entertainment.
Are you going to try and incorporate something like that in the secondary or would Coach Johnson not be too happy about that?
Burnett: No not a whole lot. In the locker room we have two team clowns in Brad Jefferson and Joshua Nesbitt and they put on some good shows in the locker room. (Laughing in the background)
Give us an example, what’s something that had you rolling on the floor?
Burnett: I caught them before, doing some singing and dance routines in the locker room. (Laughing in the background)
Do they know they’re being funny or do they really think they have some talent?
Burnett: They can’t really sing, but you can’t really tell them that. They think they’re better than Beyonce.
Let's talk about your game a little bit. When coaches and teammates talk about you, they seem to talk about your instincts. Do you think that’s a strength of your game?
Burnett: Yeah, I think that’s a strength, just having a nose for the football. The coaches drill us to play hard every play and every down.
Is “instincts” something that comes easy to you, or is that more about hard work and film study?
Burnett: It comes from both, natural and film study. Just fly to the ball wherever the ball is...just fly to the ball.
Last season you went from 2.5 TFLs as a freshman to seven—is that something you were working on, or was that more a product of the new defensive scheme?
Burnett: It’s just sometimes the defensive scheme for that week, wherever the coach wants to put me, I just try my best to work hard at it and my main goal is to get better each year.
What’s something you are focusing on improving this spring?
Burnett: I’m focusing on just getting better all-around; my whole game. From tackling, coverage, playing with my eyes, and knowing my assignments.
Could you clarify what “playing with your eyes” means for those who don’t know?
Burnett: Just basically studying my "keys", watching my "keys" (assignments) and not letting my eyes roam around or get lost during the play.
So don’t get caught peaking, right?
You have 10 career interceptions and two years of eligibility remaining. Alphonso Smith broke the ACC record with his 21st career interception last season. Is that a goal of yours?
Burnett: That’s a goal, but my main goal is to help the team out the best way I can and just play my game and let the rest just come along with just having a great season and being on a great team.
Let’s go back to last season…your last two games went from one end of the spectrum to the other. What was bigger, was it the high from beating Georgia or the low from losing to LSU?
Burnett: The bigger is losing to LSU because that’s the last impression that the nation has of Georgia Tech. So that’s what gives us motivation because that was our last game of the season and we lost the last game.
Let me ask you about a couple of your teammates. What’s tougher—bringing down the 228-pound Jonathan Dwyer or going up for a jump ball against the 6’3 Demaryius Thomas?
Burnett: Oh...they both are tough. Hopefully luck's on your side that day.
So in general you must be happy not going against those guys as well as that triple option offense.
Burnett: Yeah, it’s a good thing that they’re on our team. As a defense, the offense helps us out and makes us tougher going against the triple option, so they helped us out a whole lot.
You played quarterback in high school. Would you enjoy running this offense or were you more of a spread guy?
Burnett: When I was a quarterback I ran a little bit of option, but I was better out of the spread. I could just throw the ball down and run.
Let me ask you about a former teammate in Michael Johnson, a player who has been critiqued, and I believe you’ve defended him. What can tell us about Michael on and off the field?
Burnett: Michael Johnson is a great athlete on the field and a great person off the field. So he’s a good guy to be around and he’s a great leader on our team so he said he knows what to pick up on for the spring.
What about Derrick Morgan? What do you expect from him this season and do you think he’s ready to step up to the challenge?
Burnett: Yeah, he’s ready and we have a lot of great young defensive linemen coming in that are anxious and ready to play. Derrick Morgan is a great leader towards them so we’ll be alright.
Give us a name of somebody we should be looking out for emerging from that defensive line, somebody the fans out there maybe don’t know yet.
Burnett: You really don’t know yet, but T.J. Barnes (red-shirt freshman defensive tackle) has been doing very well out there.
Over the last seven games last season you faced some of the best receivers in the country—Aaron Kelly, Kevin Ogletree, Greg Carr, Hakeem Nicks, Brooks Foster, Mohammed Massaquoi and Demetrius Byrd, among others. Who was the toughest guy you faced?
Burnett: I would have to say Hakeem Nicks; he’s one of the best receivers.
What made him so tough from a safety’s perspective?
Burnett: He had very good hands, ran good routes, and he has a nose for the football and when the ball's in the air he feels like that’s his ball and he’s going to try his best to come down with it.
How about Matthew Stafford? How does his arm compare to other quarterbacks you’ve faced?
Burnett: Matthew Stafford is a great quarterback, very strong arm and it seemed like every throw he made was right on the money.
Not every pass was on the money, there was one that you snagged.
Burnett: (Laughs) Yeah, the interception.
You did get a pick six on Stafford…do you ever go on You-Tube to check that out?
Burnett: Yeah, I've seen it a couple times on YouTube.
Did people send that to you or did you go on your own?
Burnett: No, somebody sent it to me.
Time for three-and-out: Do you follow anybody’s Twitter?
Burnett: Tweeter what’s that?
Who was your favorite player when you were growing up as a kid?
Burnett: Football player?
Football or basketball, either one.
Burnett: Football player I would have to say Brett Favre.
Biggie or Tupac?
Photo Credit: Georgia Tech Sports Information Office
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
How was your first day of spring practice?