Burton Has Bright Future
AMES, Iowa – Injuries will always be a part of football. The violent hits football players unleash and absorb can take its toll on a body, and missing games while ailing aches and pains comes with the territory.
Iowa State’s offensive line can attest to this. No single unit on the Cyclones’ squad has endured more changes than the front-five on offense. Through six games, nine different players have earned starts and not once this season have the Cyclones started the same five offensive linemen in multiple games.
Despite all of the injuries and lack of continuity, the future is extremely bright for the men in the trenches at Iowa State, and one of those bright spots is freshman Daniel Burton.
Burton, a native of Oklahoma City, Okla., is the only Cyclone offensive lineman to start every game this season, and along with Jamison Lalk, Brock Dagel and Oni Omoile, is among four Cyclone freshmen or sophomores who have received starts on the O-line in 2013. Burton is the only rookie offensive lineman in the Big 12 to start every game this season.
Burton wasn’t slated to be a starter at the beginning of fall camp, but his play in August caught the eye of new ISU offensive line coach Chris Klenakis. He liked what he saw.
“Daniel continues to get better each week and any time you start a freshman you will have some growing pains,” Klenakis said. “He can be as good as he wants to be, and as hard as he works, that’s encouraging.”
Getting the chance to compete right away has been instrumental for Burton.
“The way we practice it hasn’t been as difficult for me as I thought,” Burton said about starting as a freshman. “Our line is close group and we are well connected. I have a great support group.”
Through the mid-part of his rookie season, Burton has excelled. He’s picked up on Klenakis’ scheme at the QG spot and graded out consistently high. Burton credits Klenakis for his progression.
“He’s been great,” Burton said. “He’s taught me a lot. I had never played guard before, so I have learned a lot from him and I feel I have improved a lot under him. He’s helping all of us every day.”
If there is one football position that usually requires maturation, it is the offensive line. Former Iowa State All-American center and ISU radio network broadcaster Ben Bruns can relate. He wasn’t ready to meet the rigors of the Big 12 in his first years as a Cyclone, but he continued to develop. By the time he was a junior and senior, Bruns was one of the best offensive linemen in school history.
As the sideline reporter for the Cyclone radio broadcasts, Bruns pays close attention to the O-line, particularly Burton. There is little doubt in Bruns’ opinion that Burton has the potential to be one of ISU’s best.
“There isn’t a more physical position on the offensive side of the ball than the center and guard spot,” Bruns said. “Every play you are challenged and it’s a battle of manhood. For how well he has played this season as a young guy, he has exceeded my expectations. The game is still fast for him, but he is playing at a high level, and I think that speaks to his upside. He is thick and powerful as a freshman. He is athletic and he has great feet.”
This weekend’s game with Oklahoma State will even be more special for Burton. Growing up in Oklahoma, Burton rooted for the Cowboys with both of his parents being OSU graduates. His family’s allegiance has changed.
“My parents still enjoy watching Oklahoma State football,” Burton said. “They love the Cyclones now. My Dad was here two years ago when we played OSU and he was as happy as can be on the field afterwards just like everybody else. They definitely have embraced Cyclone Nation.”