NWA /// Brandon Burlsworth
Christopher Severio portraying Brandon Burlsworth
‘Greater: The Brandon Burlsworth Story’
The story of University of Arkansas at Fayetteville Razorback legend Brandon Burlsworth is expected to hit the big screen next fall. By Jennifer Ellis / Photographs courtesy of Marty Burlsworth and Brian Reindl
ongtime University of Arkansas at Fayetteville (UAF) Hogs fans and visionaries who benefit from a foundation raised in his honor know well the story of Brandon Burlsworth. And as any good underdog story goes, it’s one of tenacity and triumph. Like many Arkansas boys, Burlsworth played for his high school football team, the Harrison Golden Goblins. He “called the Hogs” and had dreams of donning a Razorback-red uniform, but when he graduated, he hadn’t managed to garner a single scholarship to a Division 1 college. Despite the odds, his dreams came true when he landed a walk-on spot on the UAF football team during open tryouts. Not only did Burlsworth make the team and earn a scholarship, he went on to become the team captain. He was named All-Southeastern Conference offensive guard two years in a row, received
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All-Conference honors and was named to the first-team All-American. Off the field, Burlsworth became the first UAF football player to earn a master’s degree before playing his last game as a Razorback. By all accounts Burlsworth was greater than great. The Indianapolis Colts thought so and chose him with the 63rd pick overall in the third round of the 1999 NFL Draft. Eleven days after he was drafted, Burlsworth’s story turned tragic. It was April 28. Burlsworth was headed home to Harrison to attend a Wednesday night church service with his mother when his white Subaru Impreza, the car his parents gave him when he left for college, collided with a semitrailer. He was killed.
Capturing his legacy “Someone needs to make a movie about that guy” is almost immediately what real
estate investor-turned-writer/producer Brian Reindl of Fayetteville said he thought after he heard the news that Burlsworth had died. He wasn’t the only one. Marty Burlsworth, Burlsworth’s older brother and agent, said after the accident he and his family were approached by several people from Hollywood who wanted to make a movie about him, but the family had their reservations. “We just really didn’t know what they would do with it,” Marty said. A few years later when Reindl, a fellow UAF graduate living in Fayetteville who had seen Burlsworth play a number of times, went to Harrison to meet with the family and talk about his idea for the movie, they had a change of heart. “We felt good about him,” Marty said. “We knew he would do a good job telling the story the way it should be told.” “I told them I was a walk-on filmmak-
Published on Aug 22, 2013
AY Magazine September is our Northwest Arkansas issue, where we feature everything from sports to film and food to the chefs behind the grub...