STILLWATER - It wasn't supposed to be Keith Burns Day in Stillwater on Thursday, but the Big Eight Skywriters' visit to Oklahoma State University came pretty close.
Although the Cowboys have more outstanding individuals than they've had in several years, Burns was the focal point on this fourth stop of media from around the conference.
There are obvious reasons.
He came to the Pokes last season as an All-America junior college player from Navarro. He made 126 tackles, 102 unassisted, had at least 10 in eight games and an amazing 19 at Colorado.
He knocked a couple of ball carriers out of games, and league coaches voted him the defensive newcomer of the year. He's made several pre-season All-America teams, including Playboy , and is ranked the No. 1 inside linebacker by The Sporting News.
There's a story there, and no one went away disappointed.
Giving a position-by-position survey of his team, coach Pat Jones spoke four sentences on Burns: "I think he's got a chance to be as good a linebacker as (Thurman) Thomas was a tailback," he said. "The interesting thing is there are still some raw parts about him. He's a great worker, great youngster, great leader. He's somewhat unlike anything we've had around here in a good while. " After doing a couple of interviews for television cameras, Jones sat down for his customary chat with the print media. The first question concerned quarterback Gary Porter, and whether Jones worried about his off-the-field behavior in light of some problems last year.
The second question was in regard to Burns. In fact, the next 27 questions were in regard to Burns.
"Is that a Big Eight record? " Jones asked later.
The Cowboy coach never seemed to tire of the subject. Here are some of his responses: - "There are certain guys who can be very good players and not necessarily dominate a practice scene. But (Thurman) Thomas and (Barry) Sanders, offensively, (Leslie) O'Neal defensively, you basically could not have a bad practice with guys like that.