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DJ Burns Jr. drawing NFL interest amid NC State's Final Four run

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DJ Burns Jr. fever is sweeping the nation as the forward has led NC State to the Final Four for the first time since 1983, but a different sport might come calling for him once the Wolfpack’s magical run is over. 

NFL teams have shown a level of interest in Burns as a possible football prospect, according to multiple reports. 

Burns, who’s listed at 6-foot-9 and 275 pounds, is being viewed by teams as a possible offensive lineman. He has shown strong moves in the post for N.C. State this season, leading multiple general managers and scouts to believe he could play offensive tackle with his “A+ footwork,” according to FOX Sports’ Peter Schrager. If Burns is interested in pursuing an NFL career, he could hold his own pro day following the Final Four and draw a big turnout, according to Schrager.

An unnamed general manager, assistant general manager and scout have also displayed some interest in Burns as an NFL player, Senior Bowl director and former NFL scout Jim Nagy shared.

Burns does have a bit of a football-playing background. He was a defensive end and tight end in middle school, but he quit playing once he received his first basketball scholarship offer. He’s also more focused on reaching the NBA.

“It’s definitely the main goal,” Burns said on the “Rich Eisen Show” in March. “But I try to stay focused on the whole [thing]. We’ve got to win these games first.” 

Burns making the switch from basketball to football and then playing in the NFL wouldn’t be unprecedented. In fact, a few of the greatest tight ends of all time played college basketball before switching to football. Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez played both sports at Cal, coming off the bench for the Golden Bears. Antonio Gates played a key role in Kent State‘s run to the 2002 Elite Eight before setting an NFL record for most career touchdown receptions by a tight end. Jimmy Graham played basketball at Miami (Fla.) for four seasons, switched to football in his fifth year and then became one of the best tight ends in the NFL for a decade.

A couple of other Pro Football Hall of Famers played college basketball as well. Terrell Owens was on Chattanooga‘s basketball team, while Julius Peppers played a key role for North Carolina‘s basketball team in addition to being a star on its football team. Donavon McNabb and Antwaan Randle El also had brief stints with major college basketball programs, playing for Syracuse and Indiana, respectively.

However, there isn’t much of a track record of former college basketball players becoming NFL offensive linemen. After only playing basketball at Indiana in the late 1960s, Ken Johnson signed with the Dallas Cowboys to play offensive tackle as an undrafted free agent in 1970. That experiment didn’t last long, with Johnson getting cut that same year. He joined the Cincinnati Bengals shortly after and enjoyed an eight-year career on the defensive line.

Wayne Moore is the only other known player who played offensive line in the NFL after playing college basketball. He was an offensive tackle for the Miami Dolphins for nine seasons in the 1970s, helping them win two Super Bowls and becoming a Pro Bowler after playing basketball at Lamar University. 

But as Burns said, he’s focused on trying to help N.C. State pull off one of the most surprising tournament runs in history. The senior led the Wolfpack to a title in the ACC Tournament, averaging 15.2 points over five games. He has averaged 18.3 points per game in the NCAA Tournament, winning Most Outstanding Player of the South Region.

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DJ Burns

North Carolina State Wolfpack



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