SPRINGDALE, Ark., Jan. 4, 2020 – Monday, Pittsburgh’s Jimmy Morrissey was named the eleventh winner of the Burlsworth Trophy at an online ceremony.
The award is given to the nation’s most outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on. On hand to make the announcement was Marty Burlsworth, Chairman and CEO of the Burlsworth Trophy.
After redshirting his freshman year in 2016, the following year Jimmy won a hotly contested battle with several scholarship players and began an incredible career where he was the Panthers’ starting center for 4 consecutive seasons. An All-ACC selection in only his second year, Jimmy was the first center in Pitt’s history to earn that distinction. In his junior year, he established himself as “the” top center in the ACC, while not surrendering a single sack the entire season. Before the 2020 season, he was selected team captain for the 2nd consecutive year as well as being named Phil Steele Preseason All-American. Jimmy is enrolled in Pitt’s graduate school of business and is also a semifinalist for the National Football Foundation William V. Campbell Trophy which is given to the nation’s top football scholar athlete. Morrissey is considered one of the top center prospects in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Other finalists for the award were Brigham Young University receiver Dax Milne and University of Arkansas linebacker Grant Morgan.
As a Sophomore in 2019, Dax played in all 13 games as a reserve behind three seniors but still managed to post 21 receptions for 285 yards and 2 TD’s. Additional highlights that season included a punt return for 31 yards against Idaho State and scoring a touchdown against both USC and the University of South Florida. In 2020, he is now a full-time starter and on the Biletnikoff Award Watch List. His impressive year ranks him 5th in the nation with 1,118 receiving yards. He leads the BYU Cougars in receiving and also ranks 13th nationally with 8 TDs. He has six 100-yard games this season, averaging 17.75 yards per catch and 101.6 yards per game. Dax posted a career high in a win against Houston with 184 yards and 3 TD’s. Amazingly, his lone scholarship offer out of high school was from FCS school Weber State.
Grant played in every game his first 3 seasons amassing 101 total tackles, 39 solo, 9 TFL’s, 4 QB hurries, a forced fumble, and a sack; but his Senior season has truly been special. This year, he leads the SEC and ranks 2nd in the nation in tackles per game (12.3). His 71 assisted and 111 total tackles rank him #1 and #2 respectively in the FBS. The true apex of his 2020 campaign was a 19 tackle, 6.5 TFL, 2 sack, 2 pass break up, and a pick 6 performance against Ole Miss. The 19 tackles is tied for 4th most tackles in a single game this season, and this performance earned him Co-SEC defensive player of the week, Bronko Nagurski National Player of the Week, and Bednarik Player of the Week awards. Grant is also an excellent student and has applied to medical school.
Past Burlsworth Trophy winners include:
- 2019- Kenny Willekes, Defensive End- Michigan State
- 2018- Hunter Renfrow, Receiver- Clemson
- 2017- Luke Falk, Quarterback- Washington State
- 2016- Baker Mayfield, Quarterback- Oklahoma
- 2015- Baker Mayfield, Quarterback- Oklahoma
- 2014- Justin Hardy, Receiver- East Carolina
- 2013- Jared Abbrederis, Receiver- Wisconsin
- 2012- Matt McGloin, Quarterback- Penn State
- 2011- Austin Davis, Quarterback- Southern Mississippi
- 2010- Sean Bedford, Center- Georgia Tech
The trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth. Without one D1 scholarship offer, Brandon 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 as 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. Brandon Burlsworth’s life is also the subject of a major motion picture, “GREATER”, which was released in 2016.