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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Burnette Excited, Not Intimidated

Chris Burnette knew what to expect even before he arrived at Georgia. In fact, that's what made him want to be a Bulldog so badly.

Burnette knew that offensive line coach Stacy Searels was a tough guy to play for, that he demanded a lot, and that freshmen weren't given any special treatment. They were thrown to the wolves, and they learned the hard way.

And yet, that's exactly what made playing at Georgia exciting. Freshmen were treated as equals, and while that meant a tough time on the practice field early on, it also meant he'd have a shot at playing as soon as he was ready.

"You really want to play as much as you can, and Coach Searels will put the best five guys on the field," Burnette said. "I'm all about competition, and I know that he won't say, 'Well, this guy's older so I'm going to play him.' He's going to put his best football players out there. I'm glad to have that kind of coach in charge of who's playing and who's not."

While Burnette figures to go through his share of hard times, he also isn't anticipating any earth-shattering changes from the way he's always prepared. In fact, his high school coach modeled their practices after what Searels did at Georgia. For Burnette, it will just be a faster pace for an old routine.

"I've been to a lot of their practices during the year, and they showed me that a lot of the stuff we do on our team is pretty similar," Burnette said. "It'll be turned up another level but I really think I've been prepared pretty well for it. The fact that Coach Searels does push his players pretty hard, I think helps in the long run as far as winning games and getting you ready to play on the next level on Sundays."

That doesn't mean Burnette isn't a little intimidated. This is the SEC, after all, and Searels is one of the country's top offensive line coaches. And while Burnette managed to avoid mat drills and the rigors of spring practice, he got some words of warning from early enrollee Dallas Lee that helped get him ready for what will soon be in store.

"Pretty much when I had one of my visits, he was telling me to take the time you have no to make sure you're in shape," Burnette said. "He said when he got there, he wasn't really prepared for that, so I'm just glad I could get some advice from the guys who did come early like I was planning to do originally."

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