FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (November 7, 2023) – Washington State linebacker Kyle Thornton was named a semifinalist for The Burlsworth Trophy Tuesday.
Thornton is one of 10 semifinalists up for the award given to the most outstanding football player in America who began his career as a walk-on. Brandon Burlsworth’s life is also the subject of a major motion picture, “GREATER”, which was released nationally in 2016. Cougar quarterback Luke Falk won the award in 2017.
Thornton, a redshirt-junior, walked on prior to the 2019 season and earned a scholarship prior to the 2021 season. The Upland, Calif. native appeared in 12 games in 2021, all 13 games last season and has started all nine game this season. Thornton entered the week leading the team with 69 tackles, fourth-most in the Pac-12 Conference, while tallying 4.5 tackles-for-loss with one sack and six quarterback hurries. Thornton made a career-high 11 tackles at UCLA, led the team with nine stops at Oregon and against Stanford. Off the field graduated with a degree in economic sciences, is three-time Pac-12 Academic Honor Roll selections and was a CoSIDA Academic All-District honoree last season.
The selection committee will announce the top three Burlsworth Trophy finalists on November 14. Finalists will be honored and the winner of the 2023 Burlsworth Trophy will be announced on December 4 at 7 pm CST at Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.
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.