Brandon Vaughn Burlsworth was an American football player who played for the Arkansas Razorbacks as an offensive lineman between 1995 and 1998. He initially joined Arkansas Razorbacks as a walk-on but later he was handed an athlete’s scholarship and eventually became an all-American. His thick black glasses and resemblance to comedian Drew Carey gave him a unique look. The football fraternity had great expectations from the talented young man but fate had other plans and he was killed in an accident. After his death at a young age, the football community came together to pay tribute to his achievements and his family and friends built a foundation in his name. The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation is a symbol of Brandon’s work ethics and Christian values and provides support to children with limited opportunities. His jersey #77 was retired at the University of Arkansas as a gesture of honoring his memory.
Brandon Burlsworth studied at the Harrison High School where he was an all-state selection. He received many scholarship offers from smaller universities but eventually chose to become a walk-on football player for the University of Arkansas. During his first year, he faced a delay in earning his eligibility and worked hard to transform his 300lb chubby physique into a moderate 260lb body. Over the next two years he reformed his body to become more muscular and went back to a 300lb physique.
In 1996, he earned himself a scholarship and also sealed his own starting place as a right guard on the offensive line for the Arkansas Razorbacks. When he reached his junior season in 1997, he was selected as one of the captains of the team and in the next two years, he received All-SEC honors.
In 1998 he was selected for the ‘College Football All-America Team’ and became the first player from Arkansas to be selected for ‘College Football All-America Team’ since 1993. He played for the two SEC Western Division championship Razorback football teams in 1995 and 1998 and was named in the ‘All-SEC Academic Honor Roll’ every single year during that period of time.
Brandon was the first ever Arkansas player to complete his master’s degree before he appeared in his final game against the University of Texas. After his death, the Arkansas Razorbacks retired his jersey in his honor and encased his locker in glass for public display. In 2002, Brandon was inducted into the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and later in 2004 he was inducted into the University of Arkansas Letterman's Association Hall of Honor.
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Personal Life & Death
Brandon Vaughn Burlsworth was born in Harrison, Arkansas, on September 20, 1976 to Leo Burlsworth and Barbara Burlsworth. He went to Harrison High School and graduated from there.
He was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the 3rd round of the 1999 NFL draft, but sadly, after eleven days, he was involved in a road accident. His Subaru clipped an incoming 18-wheeler and then collided head-on with a tractor-trailer in Alpena, Arkansas. The police could not determine the reason behind the tragic accident. He did not survive the accident and passed away on April 28, 1999. He was buried at the Gass Cemetery in Omaha, Arkansas, on May 2, 1999.
The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation
Brandon’s family and friends came together to form the ‘Brandon Burlsworth Foundation’ in his honor. The foundation, which symbolizes his ethics and values, works for the benefit of needy children and provides them with physical as well as spiritual support, something Brandon was known for. At present, through the ‘Burls Kids’ program, the foundation works towards providing underprivileged youths a chance to visit Razorback and Colts football games.
The foundation has also worked with Walmart/Sam's Optical Department and independent optometrists throughout Arkansas to provide eye care to thousands of school students.