Posted: 8:56 pm Monday, November 28th, 2011
By Jeff Greer
With all the turmoil surrounding Illinois’ football program over the past few weeks, there was one constant in Gardens running back Roshard Burney’s recruiting process: West Virginia.
The Mountaineers’ persistence paid off on Monday, when the bruising and elusive Burney committed to West Virginia. Burney (6-0, 205, No. 9 on the PBGametime Big Board) also had scholarship offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Purdue, Rutgers and several non-BCS schools, including FAU. Burney visited Morgantown, W. Va., over the second weekend of October.
“It’s been on my mind since I got back,” Burney said. “Ever since I came back from that visit, I’ve loved West Virginia. It was a great atmosphere and I feel good about the coaching. They want what’s best for me.”
Illinois and WVU were in the front seat for Burney’s services all fall, but when Illinois fired coach Ron Zook on Sunday, that was the final nudge in WVU’s favor.
“The whole Coach Zook thing threw me off,” Burney said. “I just talked to him last week. He was trying to set up my visit, and the next day, he was gone.”
It’s been a breakout season for Burney, who transferred to Gardens from Glades Day before his junior year and shares backfield duties with fellow senior Alex Clark. He leads all large schools rushers with 1,966 yards and 19 touchdowns in 11 games. He averages 7.1 yards a carry and 178.7 yards a game, and was an absolute monster when Clark missed time late in the season because of an ankle injury. He’s broken 100 yards in a game 10 times this season and 200 yards three times.
What makes Burney so tough is his combination of elusiveness and power. He can stand up tacklers or shake them. And he has the mentality to match. Gardens coach Chris Davis calls it Burney’s “swag and attitude.”
“Roshard is a special kid,” Davis said. “I’m very proud of him.”