Blake Wilson receives Brandon Burlsworth Character Award
By John Burbridge
CHARLES CITY — To speak in front of a crowd takes courage.
Rehearsing beforehand can help, too
Charles City sophomore Brayden Ellis, eighth-graders Tyler Heitz and Cameron Littleton, and seventh-graders Cole Sonne and Bill Bruening were assigned to bravely speak at “Football Night In Charles City”, a fundraiser for the Comet Gridiron Club held Saturday at the Knights of Columbus.
Due to their preparation, no doubt, they did a pretty good job while mixing some comedy into their routines.
But when it was time for Blake Wilson to give his speech, he admitted to the crowd that it was mostly going to be impromptu … in other words “by the seat of his pants”.
“When coach (Bryan Bjorklund) asked me last night if I had my speech written already, I said ‘No’,” Wilson said.
That may have been better off, anyway, because Wilson was set up to be thrown off script.
At the end of Wilson’s “Football Night” speech, Bjorklund surprised his former player by presenting him with the Brandon Burlsworth Character Award.
An off-shoot from the Burlsworth Award that — in memory of the Arkansas walk-on who went on to become an All-American lineman and was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts 11 days before he died in an automobile accident — is awarded to the top walk-on college football player in the nation, the Burlsworth Character Award extends to high school athletes from all states who “may or may not be a top athletic performer, but who represents the ideals and values that Brandon Burlsworth had … to give 100 percent on the field and to stand as a moral example to his team.”
After his final high school season, Wilson was named the Comets’ “Most Valuable Offensive Player” — a first-ever for a Charles City offensive lineman — and “Most Valuable Lineman”.
Wilson was a Class 3A-District 3 First Team selection as well as being named to the All-Academic All-State Football Team after his senior season.
As part of the awards package, Wilson received a copy of the biography “Greater: The Brandon Burlsworth Story” and a pair of thick-framed collapsible glasses of the type Burlsworth famously wore while playing.