6-foot-8-inch JUCO lineman gives verbal commit to Tops

Zach Greenwell

WKU only graduated three offensive linemen this season, but two of them were big losses in senior starters Preston King and Mychal Patterson.

The Toppers have begun the process of rebuilding that depth on the line with the verbal commitment of junior-college sophomore left guard Cliff Burns.

Burns, who currently plays for the New Mexico Military Institute, told the Herald Monday that he has given a verbal pledge to WKU and plans to enroll at the school in the spring.

Burns said he took an official visit to Bowling Green this past weekend and came away impressed. He was recruited by defensive ends coach Raymond Woodie.

“The thing that most impressed me was the way it’s a family atmosphere, and I’ve never been around that playing football,” Burns said. “I really like that family feel.”

Burns started all 11 games for the Broncos (3-8) this season, helping them rank 11th in the junior college ranks in total offense.

He stands 6 foot 8 inches tall and weighs 360 pounds, according to Rivals.com, which would make him the biggest player on WKU’s current roster. He currently holds NMMI’s record for pancakes in a game at 7.

Head Coach Willie Taggart said he was looking to make the Toppers “bigger and stronger” next season, and Burns said his physical attributes will help him.

But he said he also hopes his discipline and leadership will put him in the mix for playing time early.

“I don’t ever want to sound cocky, but I want to come in and compete for the starting spot,” Burns said. “I’ve only got two more years of eligibility after junior college, so I want to come in and compete for a starting job. I know I’m big enough, so it’s just a question of adjusting to (Football Bowl Subdivision) game speed.”