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Burney's desire burns bright

Posted Mar 15, 2011

Kendric Burney listed sports psychology as his favorite class at North Carolina.

It's doubtful that Burney's professor spent a day teaching trash talking, but class is in session when Burney is between the white lines.

"That's just part of my game. I like to get in people's heads," Burney said. "If I talk a little trash to them, hopefully they'll respond back and throw at me a little bit more."

Burney has a chip on his shoulder to be sure. He's undersized by NFL standards for a cornerback, but he often came up big for the Tar Heels. His senior season was short-circuited by a seven-game suspension for accepting benefits from an agent, but over a 44-game career he picked off 11 passes.

"I'm 5-9, so anytime I get a chance to do something, I'm definitely going to go all the way," Burney said. "I love press coverage. The more physical I can be, I feel like the more active I can be, and the more times I can get my hands on balls because most of the receivers don't like to be physical."

Burney returned two of his interceptions for touchdowns and totaled 358 interception return yards, the second most in ACC history.

"That pretty much goes back to high school, where we ran the triple option like Georgia Tech runs, and I was the quarterback behind it," Burney said. "Getting the ball in my hands is a natural feeling. It is something I miss doing, so any time I do get the ball, I'm trying to score."

Burney's experience on the offensive side of the ball isn't the only athletic endeavor that he brings to the defensive backfield. Burney was an all-state baseball player at Southwest Onslow High School in Jacksonville, N.C., helping his school win back-to-back state championships.

"Playing baseball all my life has definitely helped me in turning and running with the ball," said Burney, who played sparingly for the UNC baseball team as a freshman and sophomore. "Playing center field and tracking the balls down in the gap is kind of like going after a deep ball when you don't know where the ball is and you have to turn and find it."

Burney didn't stray far from home when he made his college choice, and he wouldn't be opposed to a similar situation in his jump from college to the NFL.

He referred to the Panthers as his "hometown team."

"That would be an excellent transition for me, kind of like going to Carolina was," Burney said. "You want to build something, but I'll take the chance to go anywhere in the country.

"Back in the day, they were real good, and Coach (John) Fox did a great job there. I'm looking forward to that program stepping up and getting back to competing."

If there's one word that describes Burney, it's "competitive."

"You've got to love being competitive and being out here," he said. "When you're out here in front of a crowd, it's competition. Every guy wants to embarrass the next guy. I love that."