March RRC Scholar-Athlete: Bryant Burleson|
March 6, 2014
Bryant Burleson, a second baseman for the Texas Tech baseball team, began his career as a Red Raider quickly thanks to advice from older players. Now, halfway through his collegiate career, Burleson is in the position to return the favor by influencing players in the very position he was in just two years ago.
Burleson said he has been working towards his goal of playing collegiate baseball ever since he can remember.
"I've been playing my whole life," Burleson said. "I started when I was two or three, playing t-ball."
The love for baseball was something that ran in the Burleson family. Burleson's father and brother both played the sport. His brother even went on to play four years at the University of Nebraska.
Not only does the love for America's pastime run in the Burleson family, but also the love for Texas Tech. Both Burleson's parents attended Tech, so he grew up visiting his parents' alma mater often.
"I came up to [baseball] camps when I was younger," Burleson said. "I probably came to every one for 10 or 12 years."
Burleson felt right at home when he was offered a spot on the Red Raider baseball team.
"I was familiar with it," Burleson, who now wears number 21 for the Red Raiders, said. "I just felt like it was a good fit for me. Being in the Big 12 Conference, there's no better conference than that. All of those factors played in, and it worked out."
At first, Burleson enjoyed the differences between high school and college schedules, but then he admitted the workload eventually caught up with him.
"Coming to college having only one or two classes is nice," the accounting major said. "At the same time, the work load involves more studying and the work got tougher."
Burleson said his transition was easier when he began to take advantage of the study hall offered to him through the athletics department.
The one transition that was very daunting to Burleson was the move from high school to Division-I baseball.
"It was a lot different," Burleson said. "Especially coming from a smaller school straight in to Big 12 baseball. You have to be aware of everything. The little things can cost you games."
The Midland Christian graduate joined an experienced team as a freshman and ended up receiving more playing time than expected. He played in 46 game - starting 36 of those games.
Burleson said he was immediately welcomed on to the team his first year and had a lot of help from veteran players.
"I thank the coaches for giving me the opportunity and thank the older guys that helped me out a lot," Burleson said, thinking back to his rookie year. "Coming in as a young freshman, even the first day they were all good friends to me and would talk to me and help me out."
Burleson's early experience playing on a collegiate team combined with his work ethic has helped him become a key player on the team today.
Tech's head baseball coach, Tim Tadlock, said he has enjoyed having a player like Burleson on his team.
"He's just a high character guy," Tadlock said. "I'd probably describe him as a brown bag guy. He's the guy that's going to bring his lunch, show up early and stay late."
Tadlock hopes that Burleson will have a positive impact on some of the younger players just like some of the older players influenced him.
"He's gained some strength over the year," Tadlock said. "I think his experience from Big 12 play will help some other guys because he's been down some of these roads before."
As for Burleson, his hopes for the future are team oriented.
"I want to win the Big 12, and I want to go deep in the postseason and eventually make it to Omaha."
Though his sights are set on the postseason, Burleson's goals are not only athletic. He has been on the Big 12 Commissioner's Academic Honor Roll every semester and hopes to continue that streak throughout his collegiate career.
Tadlock is confident in Burleson's future whether it is on or off the field.
"He's definitely a guy that you can see later on in life is going to be successful in whatever he chooses to do."