It certainly didn’t end the way Kevin Burke would have liked, with four interceptions in a D3 National Championship loss, but performances like that one were a rarity for the Mount Union quarterback over the last four years. The 5-foot-10, 170-pound Westlake, Ohio native was awarded the Gagliardi Trophy on Wednesday, given to the most outstanding player in D3 football.
It was the second Gagliardi Trophy for Burke, who also won last year. He is the only player to ever win the award twice, cementing his legacy under center for the Purple Raiders, and capping arguably one of the best collegiate careers ever.
Over the course of his three years as a starter, Burke posted an impressive 43-2 mark. He also started three Stagg Bowls, taking home the title in 2012.
“If you have asked me four years ago what I would have thought about my college football career,” Burke told reporters after winning the award. “I never would have thought, ‘two-time winner of the Gagliardi Trophy and player of the year.’ I am so grateful and humbled.”
Burke beat out co-finalists Illinois College quarterback Michael Bates, Wesley quarterback Joe Callahan and Willamette running back Dylan Jones to take home the hardware. His remarkable records and stat lines are as long as a child’s Christmas list. He finished his college career with 14,573 yards of total offense, 12,087 passing yards, and 134 passing touchdowns. This past season, he led the top-ranked offense in the country, boasted the nation’s top passer rating (187.7), and his 49 passing touchdowns were the most of any quarterback in college football — from any division.
Burke is just the fourth quarterback in Mount Union history to throw for over 10,000 yards in his career, and is also the number seven rusher in Mount Union history with 2,486 career rushing yards.
He’s simply been a playmaker for Mount Union. Burke has been dynamic, picking apart defenses with both his arms and legs, and he’s pretty smart, too. Burke boasts a 3.37 GPA and spent his summer as an intern for the US Secret Service. He wouldn’t turn down an NFL team if they come knocking though.
“Any way I can get on the field. I’ve said that to Vince (Kehres, head coach at Mount Union). I say, ‘Put me on defense. Put me on punt returns.’ I couldn’t be more serious when I say it,” Burke said in a recent interview with Cleveland.com. “I want to play any way I can. Next level? If I get a chance to play anywhere else on the field, I’ll do it.”
The memorable Burke performances are abundant. He threw eight touchdowns in his last collegiate home game, a 70-14 win over Wesley to send Mount Union to its tenth-consecutive Stagg Bowl. He posted a career-high 411 passing yards in a win over Bethany this year, and rushed for 157 yards and three touchdowns against Capital as a junior.
It may not have been a fairy tale ending for Burke. But nevertheless, he still had a storybook career for the Purple Raiders.