As the 2012 draft approaches, a player once expected to be a hot commodity has received an increasingly icy reception.
Arizona State linebacker Vontaze Burfict, whose propensity for losing his cool both on the field and off has replicated the view from the medal stand after an Olympic weightlifting event in the 1970s (work with me on this, folks), has had no private workouts and no team visits in advance of the draft, according to John Walters of The Daily.
Burfict’s media session at the Scouting Combine was less-than-impressive, and his team interviews in Indy were regarded as disastrous. Add to that a pair of so-so Pro Days, and Burfict could slide all the way out of the draft.
Teams inclined to take a late-round flier on Burfict have plenty of reasons to look elsewhere. His high-school coach, Matt Logan, said of Burfict, “I am a little bit worried. I just don’t know if he’s listening to anybody right now.” Arizona State defensive coordinator Craig Bray has said any praise for Burfict’s skills is “all hype.”
There are not-so-subtle signs of piling on, however. For example, Walters regards as significant the notion that friends caution against calling or texting Burfict before 10:00 a.m., because he will still be asleep. Anyone with a son or nephew in the range of 15 to 25 will readily describe such behavior as “normal.”
And former Arizona State teammate Brandon Magee raves about Burfict. “He knows he is going to be a starter in the NFL,” Magee said, adding that Burfict plays with a lot of passion and despises losing. “Tez is going to prove everybody wrong.”
The bar will be low and the ceiling will be high, and there’s a chance that the negativity will give Burfict precisely the wake-up call that he needs in order to turn his career around.