CHARLOTTE – A few years ago, Everette Brown was making one his usual visits to his old stomping grounds at Florida State when he spotted a freshman wearing his old number.
“I saw this guy with number 99 on and that sparked my interest,” Brown said. “If he’s wearing 99 he’s definitely got to represent, you know?”
Brian Burns wore the number well for the Seminoles. He led all freshman nationally with 9.5 sacks in 2016 and quickly became one of the nation's most feared pass rushers.
Right away, everyone at Florida State knew Burns was on a path to the NFL.
“I started following him and I always heard great things about him,” Brown said. “Everybody at FSU loves him. His athletic ability just jumps out. And everyone was excited about his ability to get to the quarterback.”
After posting 10 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss a junior captain in 2018, Burns declared for the NFL Draft.
Brown quietly helped him along the way as a mentor of sorts.
“People don’t know how close he was with me,” Burns said his introductory press conference. “Especially during my years at FSU, he was on the sidelines helping me out.”
Brown, now working with the Panthers as the assistant linebackers coach, tracked Burns through the pre-draft process and knew he could be an option for Carolina with the 16th pick.
Brown, who was one of the most highly regarded pass rushers in the 2009 NFL Draft, was selected by Carolina in the second round (the Panthers traded their 2010 first-round pick to take Brown 43rd overall).
Sure enough, 10 years later, general manager Marty Hurney drafted another highly productive Seminole with his first pick.
“It was really exciting to see him in the building today and know that he’s a Panther,” Brown said. “This is the place where he wanted to be. He’s ready to get rolling."
Brown openly admits his NFL career never got rolling. The Panthers waived him in 2011 after he recorded six sacks in two seasons. Then he signed with six different teams before retiring ahead of the 2015 season. He finished his career with seven sacks in 44 games played.
Brown learned valuable lessons during that time in his life. There is wisdom to be found in successes as well as failures. Brown is eager to share it all to help Burns.
“I’ll try to make sure I help him in any way that I can. With my career path in the NFL, I try to use that experience to help guys and guide them in the right direction,” Brown explained. “But he has his own testimony, he’ll have his own legacy.”
Burns is his own player. He possesses traits that make him different.
“His length. He can separate from blockers and then he can reach for the ball for those strip-sacks. His length is one of his biggest assets,” Brown said.
“And he has the best create-and-counter momentum. What I mean by that is he utilizes his speed to get the blocker on his heels and out of position. He counters that momentum with an inside or outside move to create that short-corner pass rush to get to the quarterback quicker.”
Burns doesn’t waste any time. That’s one his calling cards as an edge rusher – an elite get-off.
If he applies that skill to his everything he does, if prepares himself with that urgency, Brown believes he’ll thrive.
“The time is now,” Brown said of his words of advice for Burns. “You have to have that urgency to really bring out your best.”
View photos of first-round draft pick Brian Burns as he meets with coaches and tours the facility.