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.

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