(video by Larry Vaught/Verizon Mobile Wireless)
By LARRY VAUGHT
Even when he started last year, Randall Burden was still in the shadow of the other cornerback Ã¢â‚¬â€ Trevard Lindley.
Now Burden is KentuckyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most experienced cornerback and a player being counted on to stabilize the defense the way Lindley did most of his career before injuries limited his play the second half of the 2009 season.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Things are going well. I am just ready to get this season going,Ã¢â‚¬Â Burden said Thursday. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Time is flying by. I remember looking up to Trevard Lindley, who is the NFL, and David Jones, who is doing his thing now, when I first got here and now it is my turn.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Things are a lot different. With me being the older guy with more experience, I have to take that and run with it and help the younger guys all I can.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Burden, a junior, came to Kentucky after a highly successful career at LaGrange, Ga. He was a three-sport standout and even after he was redshirted in 2007, he expected to play much more in 2008 but was basically limited to special teams play and had only four tackles.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I can help our young players understand that you have to wait your turn and then it will come and you will shine,Ã¢â‚¬Â Burden said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I had to wait my turn. My redshirt freshman year I thought I was going to be playing a lot, and I was just coming in when the guys got tired or hurt. That was the only time I played. But last season I got my chance to start, and I thought I did pretty well and hopefully this season will be even better.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Burden started all 13 games last year and had two interceptions, including one he returned 50 yards for a touchdown. He was second on the team with eight pass breakups and had 36 tackles.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Randall is a big-play guy. He got better and better last year and was close to making even more plays. He just has to finish plays a little better,Ã¢â‚¬Â secondary coach Chris Thurmond said..
Burden can show his emotions on the field more than Lindley ever did, but Thurmond likes that.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“He is a competitor and wants to be good. If somebody never shows any emotion or if you play golf with somebody and they miss a 4-footer for the money and they never show any emotion, there is something wrong with them,Ã¢â‚¬Â Thurmond said.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“If you have a kid that shows a little bit of emotion, as long as it is channeled in the right way, that means he cares. We donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t ever get concerned about that. All we do is when they come back on the sideline is tell them to play the next play and tell them some little thing to get them back in the game.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Burden says it will be different not having Lindley in the secondary.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think there is more pressure. With Trevard last year, people threw to my side knowing it was a bad thing going to his side,Ã¢â‚¬Â he said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“I figure this year it will probably be the same. I am somewhat of a new guy, so I think teams will try to throw to both sides to see what they can get out of it. But I have got better on my man coverage.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I want to get to a point teams donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to throw to my side and I get that respect, but I like to have action to my side, too. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t want to be over there just getting all the dummy routes like Trevard usually got because he was so good.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“Even if a team would be scared to throw my side, I would still want them to throw 100 balls to my side. ThatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s the action you want.Ã¢â‚¬Â
Burden believes Kentucky will have a solid season even though the Wildcats will be starting fewer seniors on both offense and defense than in past years.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I am really excited about this year. Hopefully, I will end up with a pretty good season and we will have a great season as a team,Ã¢â‚¬Â Burden said. Ã¢â‚¬Å“That is what I am going for. I am really excited about this season knowing I have one year of starting under my belt, and I know I can hang with the guys in the SEC now.Ã¢â‚¬Â