Iowa's Keith Duncan, Northwestern's Chris Bergin headline Burlsworth Trophy semifinalists
The top 10 semi-finalist for the 2020 Burlsworth Trophy were announced on Tuesday, and a pair of B1G players are among the honorees.
Iowa’s Keith Duncan and Northwestern’s Chris Bergin are among the NCAA players across the nation who have made the list.
The Burlsworth Trophy is awarded to the most outstanding football player in America who began his career as a walk-on.
Duncan, who has indicated he won’t return to Iowa City for another season, has become one of the most well-known kickers in Iowa program history. Duncan’s career began with his walk-off 33-yard field goal to upset No. 3 Michigan in Kinnick Stadium in 2016.
After Duncan redshirted in 2017 and then did not see any game action in 2018, he was named the starter for the Hawkeyes in 2019.
Duncan is one of the best field goal kickers in college football, converting on 29-of-34 field-goal attempts and connecting on all 32 PAT attempts. Duncan was named a first-team All-American.
During his freshman campaign at Northwestern, Bergin played primarily on special teams and was one of only 13 first-year players to see action for the Wildcats. Over the next two years, he became an every-game player and eventually a starter making 137 tackles and 9.0 TFL’s.
In the seven games this season, Bergin has three times surpassed double-digits in tackles and ranks 8th in the Big Ten in tackles per game.
— Northwestern Football (@NUFBFamily) December 15, 2020
Last season, Michigan State’s Kenny Willekes received the award. Willekes received no division one scholarship offers, and walked on to play in East Lansing. He became an All-American, the Big 10 Defensive Lineman of the Year, and became the Spartans all-time leader in tackles for loss. Hillekes was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the 2020 NFL draft.
The trophy is named in honor of Brandon Burlsworth. Without one D1 scholarship offer, Brandon walked on to the Razorback team in 1994, worked his way to being a three-year starter and was eventually named an All-American in 1998.
Burlsworth was selected as the 63rd overall pick by the Indianapolis Colts in the 1999 NFL draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation was created in his memory and supports the physical and spiritual needs of children, in particular those children who have limited opportunities.