Burden headed to TSU

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Only a few days after published reports said Rod Burden had committed to Alabama State, the Charles Henderson wide receiver decided to stay a little closer to home.

Burden announced Wednesday that he would play football for Troy State. He made his decision Monday, but decided not to announce anything until Wednesday because of the tragedy at Charles Henderson.

"With Troy State, I'm staying at home and I'm still being a Trojan," Burden said.

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Burden was recruited as a punt returner and a wide receiver and chose Troy State over UAB, Louisville, Alabama State and Alabama A&M.

Burden visited Alabama State over the weekend and will visit Alabama A&M this weekend.

"I want to play soon," Burden said. "Troy State lost their punt returner and several receivers, so I think I have a better chance to play early."

Burden lined up at almost every position on offense for Charles Henderson. He lined up in the backfield, at wide receiver, at quarterback and on special teams.

Although he is only 5-11, 160, Burden used his catlike quickness to rank near the top of nearly every offensive category for the Trojans. He was the leader in punt returns, averaging more than 10 yards an attempt and scoring one touchdown. He was the Trojans' leading receiver with 29 catches for 253 yards and four touchdowns. He ran for 286 yards and six scores and even threw six passes.

His current coach expressed joy for Burden.

"I'm definitely proud for Rod," Charles Henderson coach Hugh Fountain said.

Burden said he considered playing for another school so he could have the experience of going away to college, but he wanted his family to be able to see him play.

Troy State's schedule also played a factor.

"I've never done much traveling, so it will be fun to do it for the first time with the team," Burden said.

Although Charles Henderson has played football for many years, Burden is the first Trojan to sign with Troy State in several years. Burden is the first scholarship player to sign with Troy State from Charles Henderson since Julius Pittman signed in 1987. Since 1948, only 30 letterman have been from Troy.

"I'm going to be the first one from Charles Henderson to go to Troy State in quite a while," Burden said.

Burden joined teammates Melvin Scott, Middle Tennessee, and Chaz Richards, Southern Miss, as players who have committed to Division I schools.

College recruits have until Feb. 5 to decide which college they will attend. They are free to change their minds until that day, when they must sign a National Letter of Intent.