Dec. 15, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Georgia Tech senior center Sean Bedford was named Wednesday as the winner of the inaugural 2010 Burlsworth Trophy, given to the nation’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.
Joining Bedford as finalists were Josh McNary of Army, Nick Reveiz of Tennessee, Bryant Ward of Oklahoma State and Ryan Winterswyk of Boise State.
Bedford was recruited for football by only Ivy League and non-Division I schools out of Buchholz High School in Gainesville, Fla. With a desire to play college football at the highest level and a passion for aerospace engineering, Bedford chose to walk-on at Georgia Tech.
After spending two years as a scout team defensive lineman under then-coach Chan Gailey, Bedford was moved to the offensive line by current Yellow Jacket head coach Paul Johnson. After serving the 2008 season as the back-up center, Bedford took over starting duties in 2009 and was named first team All-ACC while helping lead the Yellow Jackets to an ACC championship and Orange Bowl appearance.
Bedford, who will graduate on Saturday, was named first team All-ACC for a second straight season in 2010. Georgia Tech, which leads the nation in rushing offense, will play Air Force Dec. 27 in the AdvoCare V100 Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.
“Sean is a great story, and a good example of what a young person can do if they set goals and work hard to reach those goals,” said Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. “He came to Georgia Tech as a walk-on defensive lineman and three years later he is the first team All-ACC center. Sean will be extremely successful in whatever he does and he is very deserving of this award.”
The award is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth, former University of Arkansas walk-on and All-American offensive lineman. Without one Division 1 scholarship offer, Burlsworth walked on to the Razorback team in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998. Burlsworth was selected in the third round with the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children that have limited opportunities.
“I am extremely honored to be the inaugural recipient of the Burlsworth Trophy,” Bedford said. “I have a tremendous amount of respect for what Mr. Burlsworth accomplished and it is humbling to be mentioned in the same caliber with him. I would like to thank the Burlsworth family, my coaches, teammates and friends for helping me earn this award.”