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2017 Recruit Notebook: RB Robert Burns

A talented player who has struggled with injury issues for 2 years, RB Robert Burns could be a boom or bust player at Miami.

3-star Miami (FL) Gulliver Prep RB Robert Burns could be a boom or bust at Miami.

In this installment of the Recruit Notebook, we meet arguably the biggest boom or bust player in this class: RB Robert Burns.


It is no secret that Miami has looked to bring in 2 RBs in the 2017 recruiting class. At the top of the list is Robert Burns. A local standout from Miami (FL) Gulliver Prep, Burns has good size at 5’11” 210lbs. Burns splashed onto the recruiting scene with a solid sophomore campaign, and a then-record SPARQ rating at Nike’s The Opening 2015 Miami Regional. Burns attends the same school as current canes Dionte Mullins, Joseph Jackson, and Cedrick Wright, and the late Sean Taylor.

Burns is the latest Gulliver Prep player to enroll early at Miami. He’s on campus and will go through Spring Practice in the hopes of finding a role on this team as a freshman.

Recruiting Ranking

Due to the fact that he hasn’t played much in the last 2 years (more on that in a bit), Burns has seen his recruiting ranking fall. On the 247sports composite, Burns is a 3-star prospect, the #25 RB in this class, #51 in the State of Florida, and #391 overall. For someone who was once a high 4-star recruit, this is a substantial drop. But, the fact that he hasn’t dropped further is a testament to Burns’ athleticism and skills...when he’s healthy.

Burns picked Miami over 21 other offers, including Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, and Georgia.

Burns as a player

As I said before, Burns has good size. He’s well developed at 5’11” 210lbs. Like most HS RBs, he can learn to use his size more effectively as a runner, but that should come in time.

Burns has a good combination of size, speed, and skill. His best year (as a sophomore in 2014) was pretty good, and he flashes top end talent on that film.

To his credit, Burns doesn’t dance too much. He’s a 1 cut and go kind of back who tries to get up the field when possible. He did, at times, try to bounce the play to the edge and use his speed to outrun defenders, but that’s typical, especially at the HS level.

Burns wasn’t used much as a receiver at Gulliver, so it remains to be seen if that is something that he has in his arsenal, or is able to add to his game at the collegiate level.

The big knock on Burns is his health. He only had 9 carries for 53 yards and 1 99 yard kickoff return for a TD as a senior. And, as a junior, he didn’t do much more. Various injuries to his foot, ankle, and knee plagued Burns and kept him off the field.

Here’s another take on Burns from a Recruiting Analyst:

In watching Robert Burns’ film, it seems as though he is the complete package. His combination of speed, vision, power, elusiveness, and lateral quickness is really, REALLY impressive. Even though Burns may not possess elite straight line speed, I think he can be an elite running back at Miami. And here’s why:

Burns’ vision is in the upper echelon of backs that I have seen recently. That trait makes up for any lack of speed he may have. I’ll compare him to Frank Gore in running style. He doesn’t have the vision that Gore has, but in my opinion, noon in the game’s history does. That being said, Burns’ ability to see creases before they expose themselves is superb. His ability to anticipate defenders not being in certain gaps is something you can’t teach, and he’s really really good at it.

Secondly, and it’s quite obvious, is his power. At 5’10” and close to 210 pountds, Burns is a force who runs low and doesn’t shy away from contact. He can quickly become the short yardage back the Hurricanes have been lacking for some time.

I think the most underrated attribute in Burns’ arsenal is his elusiveness. Most people that watch his film notice his aforementioned power, but his elusiveness is much more impressive to me. Burns has exceptional lateral mobility, which allows for him to get past many defenders without having to run them over.

I truly beleive that Burns has the potential to be a Frank Gore caliber back for the Hurricanes. The question, however, is if his body will let him reach those heights of performance.

2017 Outlook

Miami has starting RB Mark Walton, sophomore Travis Homer, and junior Trayone Gray returning at the position. There have been rumors that Edwards may be looking to transfer, and Gray hasn’t really excelled at the collegiate level. But, for now, they’re on the roster ahead of Burns.

There has been some talk that Burns could potentially be used in a RB/FB role such as Najeh Davenport was in the early 2000s. Burns has the size for this, and if he is able to block as effectively as Najeh was, he could add a high level of athleticism at the FB spot (when he’s used there).

With 4 guys on the roster ahead of him, Burns will be hard pressed to find time as the starter. But, he could be a good special teams and situational offense player this year as he becomes more comfortable in the offense.

Chances for a redshirt in 2017: 5/10

IF Burns can stay healthy and approach and exceed the level of play from his HS sophomore season, then Miami has a huge addition to the team. If he keeps getting injuries that preclude him from playing, it’ll be a different story.

That’s it for this installment of the Recruit Notebook.

Go Canes