Friday, July 27, 2012

Counting down the top Pitt football players of the last 40 years- No.15 Gary Burley

I will be counting down my own list of the top 50 Pitt football players since 1972.  I have spent time doing a lot of research and talking to a lot of people when formulating this list, but ultimately it is MY opinion.  The great thing about lists like this is that people will disagree, and feel free to, but just remember that there is no right answer so there's no need to go crazy if you do disagree.  I will post this same intro with all 50 bios because I know the one time I don't, people will complain about not knowing what criteria I used.  I will add at least one a day, maybe two.  

My criteria for selecting the order is as follows:

1.  Productivity.
2.  Talent.
3.  Place in program history.
4.  Only the player's careers while at Pitt are considered, not their NFL careers. 
5.  No current players.

15.  Gary Burley (1973-74)- Like most Ohioans, the nose tackle always wanted to go to Ohio State, but bad grades forced him to a junior college in Texas.  After two All-American seasons in junior college, he ended up at Pitt where he set the tone for future Pitt defenses.

Burley went on to two dominating seasons, and for the beginning of Johnny Majors' reign he was just as important in the early years on defense as Tony Dorsett was on offense.  In fact, Burley was the first great defensive player in Pitt's great decades long run of great defensive players.  Quite simply, it all began with him.  He mentored future greats Randy Holloway and Al Romano, who mentored Hugh Green and Ricky Jackson, who mentored Bill Maas, and on and on and on.  

As a senior Burley was named an All-American and averaged 12 tackles a game, an incredible number for a nose guard.  Burly was drafted in the 3rd round by the Cincinnati Bengals.  He played 9 years in the league, 8 with Cincinnati.  

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