“I’m so honored. This is such an amazing accomplishment,” said Burtscher. “I have to give credit to my coaches. Coach (Marc) Martinez and Coach (Marcus) Patton really taught me how to play linebacker and the defensive side of college football. I really don’t know what to say. This is amazing.”
Burtscher becomes the second Texan in Tarleton history to be named an All-America honoree from the AFCA, joining Ranardrick Phillips in 2007. Phillips was a four-year standout for Tarleton and was a three-time LSC Defensive Back of the Year award winner.
The American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) is a national organization solely dedicated to improving football coaches through ongoing education, interaction, and networking. Its primary goal is to provide resources for personal and professional development amongst the football coaching profession. The AFCA membership includes over 11,000 members and represents coaches and several stakeholders within the game of football.
A native of Glen Rose, he was recently named a CoSIDA first-team Academic All-America selection, D2CCA first-team all-region, first-team All-Lone Star Conference, academic All-LSC, and the Lone Star Conference Linebacker of the Year. Earlier this year, he was also named a national semifinalist for the National Football Foundation’s William V. Campbell trophy.
Burtscher finished the season as the Lone Star Conference leader in tackles with 117 while tacking on 6.0 tackles for a loss, 4.5 sacks, and three interceptions. He was also named the LSC Defensive Player of the Week after lifting the Texans to a 35-5 win over Angelo State in September. He also boasts a 3.93 grade point average as a bio-medical science major.
“This year has been a whirlwind (starting with the coaching changes),” said Burtscher. “Initially, I wasn’t even starting. I didn’t start at all during spring ball. The first time I started under the new coaching staff was the first game against McNeese State. It took me some time to learn the new system and forget the old stuff. Honestly, it kind of put a chip on my shoulder from the beginning.
“Coach Patton really helped me understand the new scheme and Coach (Todd) Whitten’s calm presence and demeanor really helped me a lot,” he continued. “(Whitten) is so encouraging. He’s the type of coach that makes you want to work as hard as you can because you want to make him proud of you. Coach Patton put me in a great position to earn this award. He does a good job of putting playmakers in the right position to make plays. I really can’t thank them enough.”
He came to Tarleton in 2013 after a standout career at Glen Rose High School where he starred on both sides of the football – earning All-State honors as a running back and safety. Upon arrival in Stephenville, Burtscher spent his first two seasons on the offensive side before transitioning to linebacker prior to the 2015 season. Over his two years on defense, Burtscher has amassed 218 tackles, including 15.0 for a loss and 9.0 sacks.
“I may be the one receiving the national recognition, but it takes 11 guys to play defense,” said Burtscher. “I wouldn’t have anything without the other 10 guys on the field beside me. Whether it’s the defensive line creating the way for me to make a play or the secondary giving me time to a make a play, I can’t thank them enough. They encouraged me when I was down and kept me humble when I was up.”
He is the only student-athlete from the Lone Star Conference to represent the first-team defense. Burtscher just completed his final season of competition at Tarleton as the starting middle linebacker in the Texan defense.
“What makes me feel really good is being able to have received this award as a representative of Tarleton State University,” said Burtscher. “Tarleton was my only football offer out of high school and I can’t thank this university enough for giving me the chance to play college football.”