UConn Athletic Communications / August 22, 2022
STORRS – If Robert Burns doesn’t carry the football once this season, if he doesn’t gain a single rushing yard, if he doesn’t even make an appearance in the game, he will still be an asset to the UConn football team.
Of course, the reality is that Burns will carry the ball numerous times for the Huskies this season, gain plenty of rushing yards and appear in a game as soon as Saturday’s season opener at Utah State.
And he will certainly be an asset to the UConn football team.
“Robert Burns has been an absolute blessing to this team,” UConn coach Jim Mora said after a recent practice. “Number one, his character and his maturity are off the charts. This is a real man.
“He’s really a role model for others on this team, certainly the young guys on this team. Hopefully, he’s a role model for other college athletes because the balance he brings to academics, athletics and all other things he does in the community is amazing. It shows you that if you have a platform like he does because he’s a college football player, or a basketball player, or a pro, use it to benefit others. And he’s the ‘epitome’.
Burns, a graduate student in his second year at UConn after transferring from Miami, has already made an impact off the football field. While in Miami, he and his good friend Mo Hasan founded Second Spoon, an organization dedicated to collecting leftover food from universities, grocery stores and restaurants and using it to feed the homeless. Hasan, now at USC, has expanded the organization to Southern California, while Burns is looking to bring his philanthropy to UConn.
“Here, the demographics are a little different,” Burns said. “The places where Second Spoon is, they’re more condensed areas of town. In Storrs, the need isn’t as great. But I have an app that I’ve been working on. It’s called Invicta, and the idea behind it is to help the student – Transition of athletes to the real world.
“I’ve met guys who are very talented and maybe even had a great career, but they struggle three or four years after football is over. Our app is to help them with life skills : networking, body language, things of that nature. It was an incredible opportunity to have a couple of partners present to me and I felt like it was something I had to be a part of.”
UConn football is also something Burns wants to be a part of, a big part of.
“My role will be how the coach chooses to use me,” he said. “Coach (Nick) Charlton (UConn offensive coordinator) is a creative guy and he finds ways to put me in winning positions. You’re going to see a lot of me.”
Mora maintains that Burns’ versatility has made him a big part of the Huskies’ game plans.
“His versatility has given Nick a lot of flexibility to do different things,” Mora said. “Once he starts, he’s very tough. Another thing is that he’s very bright as a football player. He’s very bright as a human being, but he’s got a very big football intelligence, so he can do a lot of things – he can line up in the backfield, he can line up as a tight end, he can line up wide, he can line up as an individual fullback, and that gives us the flexibility to do a lot of different things with the same personnel group.”
On and off the field, Burns has clearly marked.
“You love being around people like that,” Mora said. “You hope it turns everyone off and you hope other people notice it and then try to emulate it and do the same thing. Not only does that grow your internal culture, but the perception of your program outside is like, ‘Wow, these people don’t have rights, they don’t just care about themselves, they care about the community.’ And Robert Burns, that’s who he is. He’s amazing.”