December 17, 2013

Burke gets a Heisman vote

More news about: Mount Union
Kevin Burke won't be striking the Heisman pose any time soon, but did receive a vote, which is rare for a Division III player.
Photo by Dan Poel, d3photography.com

By Jason Bailey
for D3sports.com

Mount Union is synonymous with Division III football.

Emphasis on the III.

But that classification didn’t stop Purple Raiders junior quarterback Kevin Burke from receiving a second-place vote for the Heisman Trophy, which was awarded Saturday.

Heisman voter Doug Clarke, who attended the same high school as Burke, said he included Burke on the ballot in part because of concerns about the popular candidates. Although all NCAA players are eligible for the Heisman, only Division I athletes have won the award.

“Why not a Division III kid? No scholarships. He gets good grades. He’s sort of the ideal of what a college athlete is all about,” Clarke said. “I thought, ‘Why not, I am going to step in new territory here.’ He’s certainly got the credentials. I know it’s Division III, but he has electric stats. It seemed to be a good year to do it. There wasn’t any outstanding guy in my mind.”

Clarke gave Florida State sophomore quarterback Jameis Winston, the eventual winner, his first-place vote. He picked Oregon sophomore quarterback Marcus Mariota in third place.

The only Division III player to receive notable attention in Heisman voting was Plymouth State running back Joe Dudek, who finished ninth in 1985 after being featured in a Sports Illustrated article (What the Heck, Why Not Dudek?) that encouraged voters to think outside the box.

Clarke certainly did.

“Let’s be honest, I voted for Winston to win the thing,” Clarke said. “So what’s the harm for popping Kevin Burke in there? I thought that would be kind of neat. It would be so neat, so unusual that no one else would do it. It’s not like he’s going to be in New York.”

But his excellent season among his peers is sending Burke to Salem, Va., this week as one of four finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy, awarded to the best all-around Division III player. Burke has thrown for 3,351 yards with 43 touchdowns and six interceptions while adding 904 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground, and he is second in Division III in passing efficiency.

Most recently, he led Mount Union (14-0) to the Stagg Bowl with a pair of big games: a 62-59 quarterfinal victory over Wesley and a 41-40 semifinal win vs. North Central. Burke is seeking his second consecutive national championship, and he was named to the All-America Third Team after last season’s title run.

Clarke is now retired after a newspaper career mostly in Ohio, most recently writing a column for the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram. He has owned a Heisman vote for about 30 years and has not been afraid to make unorthodox selections. Last season, he gave Wisconsin running back Montee Ball his first-place vote; Ball didn’t finish among the top 10 vote-getters.

But this is the first time Clarke has voted for a non-Division I player.

“This is just totally subjective on my point,” Clarke said. “But [Texas A&M sophomore quarterback Johnny] Manziel is sort of a punk to me; the Jameis Winston thing sort of got cloudy, although I did vote for him to win it. There was no standout, and also there’s that feeling that somewhere along the line, the Heisman got lost. [It turned into] who is going to be the best pro? Will we be sorry that we gave the Heisman to this guy?”

Biases among Heisman voters are often evident when reviewing the ballots. The 870 votes are divided equally among six geographical regions, and it’s common for regions to skew their votes in favor of local candidates. And Clarke is certainly more familiar with Burke than most.

Decades after Clarke graduated from St. Edward High School, Burke led the Cleveland-area school to a state championship in his senior season but didn’t receive any scholarship offers, according to Clarke, who said other players on the team received interest from Northwestern and Michigan. That 2010 campaign was the last time Clarke has seen Burke play in person, although he has watched three or four Mount Union games a year via television replay.

All that considered, Clarke said he isn’t worried about any media reaction about his selection.

“That didn’t cross my mind at all,” Clarke said. “Hell, what would I care?”

Any attention that Mount Union will receive from Burke’s unexpected Heisman recognition should only strengthen the school’s reputation as a Division III powerhouse. The Purple Raiders have won 11 national titles, have multiple players currently in the NFL, and have had its athletes win the Gagliardi Trophy a record five times. Their trophy case is certainly full.

Thankfully, a Heisman vote shouldn’t take up much space.

Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Coast Guard at Anna Maria
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Defiance at Baldwin Wallace
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
Video Live Stats
7:30 PM
Trine at Manchester
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Belhaven at Millsaps
Video Live Stats
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Mass-Dartmouth at Mount Ida
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Muhlenberg at Wilkes
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
N.C. Wesleyan at Stevenson
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Western New England at Springfield
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Fitchburg State at Becker
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
7:00 PM
WPI at MIT
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Salve Regina at Worcester State
7:00 PM
Bridgewater State at Curry
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Morrisville State at St. Lawrence
Video Audio
7:00 PM
Nichols at Westfield State
10:00 PM
Adrian at Pacific
Live Stats
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Endicott at Framingham State
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Washington U. at Carnegie Mellon
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Chicago at Case Western Reserve
Video Preview Live Stats
12:00 PM
Husson at Alfred
12:00 PM
SUNY-Maritime at Maine Maritime
Video
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
Live Stats
12:00 PM
Otterbein at Buffalo State
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Ursinus at Bethany
Video Live Stats
12:00 PM
Sewanee at Kenyon
12:00 PM
Alfred State at William Paterson
1:00 PM
King's at Moravian
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Kean at Christopher Newport
1:00 PM
McDaniel at Catholic
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Lebanon Valley at Franklin and Marshall
Video Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Plymouth State at Castleton
Live Stats Tickets
1:00 PM
Randolph-Macon at Dickinson
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Oberlin at Kalamazoo
Video Live Stats
1:00 PM
Emory and Henry at Ferrum
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Wooster at Washington and Jefferson
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
St. Vincent at Alma
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Concordia (Wis.) at Finlandia
1:00 PM
Olivet at St. John Fisher
Video Live Stats Audio Audio
1:00 PM
Rowan at Widener
Audio
1:00 PM
Hobart at Brockport
Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Union at Ithaca
Live Stats
1:00 PM
Susquehanna at Lycoming
Video Live Stats Audio
1:00 PM
Utica at Misericordia
1:00 PM
The Apprentice School at Methodist
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats
1:30 PM
RPI at Norwich
Video Live Stats
1:30 PM
Wilmington at Bluffton
1:30 PM
Monmouth at Hope
Video Audio
1:30 PM
Bridgewater at Gettysburg
Video Live Stats
1:30 PM
Muskingum at Waynesburg
Audio
1:30 PM
Juniata at Grove City
2:00 PM
Wisconsin Lutheran at Trinity Int'l
2:00 PM
Lakeland at Carroll
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-Stevens Point at St. Norbert
2:00 PM
Austin at Hendrix
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Maranatha Baptist at Martin Luther
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Millikin at Greenville
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Eureka at Knox
Live Stats
2:00 PM
MacMurray at Rockford
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Gustavus Adolphus at Westminster (Mo.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-La Crosse at Luther
2:00 PM
Beloit at Lake Forest
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Concordia-Moorhead at Jamestown
2:00 PM
Crown at Hamline
Live Stats
2:00 PM
Carleton at Macalester
Audio
2:00 PM
Bethel at Dubuque
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Video Live Stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
St. Olaf at Grinnell
2:00 PM
Buena Vista at Mayville St.
2:00 PM
Simpson at UW-Stout
2:00 PM
Aurora at Carthage
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
UW-River Falls at Coe
2:00 PM
Ripon at Concordia-Chicago
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Elmhurst at Loras
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
Video Live Stats
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
Video Audio Audio
2:30 PM
Southern Virginia at Earlham
Video Live Stats
2:30 PM
Lawrence at Presentation
4:00 PM
McPherson at Nebraska Wesleyan
Live Stats
4:00 PM
UW-Platteville at George Fox
4:00 PM
La Verne at Puget Sound
Video Live Stats
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
Video Live Stats Audio
5:00 PM
Hartwick at Western Connecticut
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Maryville (Tenn.) at Berry
Video Live Stats
6:00 PM
Augustana at Mount St. Joseph
Live Stats
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Hampden-Sydney at Averett
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Denison at Marietta
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Hiram at Westminster (Pa.)
7:00 PM
Thiel at Allegheny
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Capital at Wittenberg
Video Live Stats Live Stats
7:00 PM
Shenandoah at Gallaudet
Live Stats
7:00 PM
Illinois College at Rose-Hulman
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Geneva at Frostburg State
7:00 PM
Greensboro at Guilford
Live Stats
7:00 PM
LaGrange at Birmingham-Southern
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Anderson at North Park
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
Video Live Stats Audio
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats
7:30 PM
Hanover at Centre
Video Live Stats
8:00 PM
Willamette at Rhodes
8:00 PM
Cornell at Iowa Wesleyan
Video Live Stats Live Stats
8:00 PM
Augsburg at Northwestern (Minn.)
Live Stats
8:00 PM
Southwestern Assemblies at Howard Payne
Video Live Stats Audio
8:00 PM
Sul Ross State at UT-Permian Basin
8:30 PM
Redlands at Trinity (Texas)
Live Stats Audio
Sep. 1: All times Eastern
7:00 PM
Washington and Lee at Johns Hopkins
Video Live Stats
Sep. 2: All times Eastern
6:00 PM
Delaware Valley at Wesley
Video Live Stats
7:00 PM
Albright at Salisbury
Sep. 3: All times Eastern
12:00 PM
Cortland at Heidelberg
Live Stats
1:00 PM
TCNJ at UW-Whitewater
Live Stats
2:00 PM
North Central (Ill.) at Robert Morris-Chicago
Video Live Stats Audio
2:00 PM
John Carroll at UW-Oshkosh
Video Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Huntingdon at Louisiana College
Video
2:00 PM
St. Scholastica at St. John's
Video Live Stats Audio Audio
2:00 PM
Benedictine at Wheaton (Ill.)
Video Live Stats
4:00 PM
UW-Platteville at George Fox
4:00 PM
Central at Whitworth
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Thomas More at Franklin
Video Live Stats Audio
6:00 PM
Wabash at Albion
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
East Texas Baptist at Texas Lutheran
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Ohio Wesleyan at Mary Hardin-Baylor
Video Live Stats Audio
7:00 PM
Hardin-Simmons at Southwestern
Live Stats Audio
7:10 PM
St. Thomas at UW-Eau Claire
Video Live Stats