|Photo: NBC Sports|
When Patriots running back Rex Burkhead signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last March, he knew he might have a chance to experience greatness. Now, the moment is finally here to live a childhood dream.
When running back Rex Burkead signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last March, he knew he might have a chance to experience greatness. After playing his first four seasons in Cincinnati, the former Nebraska running back jumped at the chance to play for head coach Bill Belichick. Playing for a Super Bowl is something Burkhead could only dream of as a kid growing up in Plano, TX, the heart of college football. He knew joining the Patriots would potentially give him a chance.
“[Playing in the Super Bowl] is something I always dreamed of,” said Burkhead. “I knew coming here, I put me in a pretty good spot. I knew there was still a lot of hard work to go into it. It’s been cool to see a bunch of teammates, whether it was middle, high school, peewee or college football, reaching out and wishing me the best of luck.”
Burkhead starred on the high school football scene, but his work ethic led him to Nebraska. He quickly became the No. 5 ranked rusher in Cornhuskers history, garnering interest from NFL scouts. The chance to live a childhood dream is something Burkhead never took lightly.
“I’ve always taken pride in working hard and always had a dream of playing in this game,” the young running back said.
When Burkhead arrived in New England, he knew something was different. It was easy for him to see why the Patriots had built a dynasty. The “Patriot Way” mantra separated each of the New England players and coaches from the 31 other teams in the league. No detail goes unnoticed with Bill Belichick in charge, according to Burkhead.
“I’ve learned so much from him just being here,” Burkhead said. I could see [Belichick’s] focus and work ethic and his attention to detail. “The high expectations the focus from guys was off the charts, I started realizing it was on a different level here.”
Burkhead said the strategy doesn’t change in a Super Bowl and the level of focus hasn’t been higher from the team. Despite all of the media interviews and events associated with the Super Bowl, Burkead knows the team is on the same page. Many of the veterans have been here before and are helping young players like Burkead handle the pomp and circumstance of the world’s biggest game.
“It was easy to get locked in,” he said. “I think we all understand the magnitude of this game.”
Burkhead rushed for 264 yards and tallied eight total touchdowns this season (three receiving). He provided a lift for the Patriots this season as a change of pace running back in a system predicated on versatility. The chance to play in a Super Bowl never came across Burkhead’s mind when he was selected in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft. In the end, he was one of the rare late round success stories. This weekend, another chapter of Burkhead’s story can be written on Super Bowl Sunday, but for him it’s just another game.
“A lot of hard work and preparation is going into the game,” Burkhead said. “Now that we’re in Minnesota, the preparation doesn’t end.”