MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – When WVU star safety Aubrey Burks was laying motionless during the TCU game, the thoughts of those watching were likely filled with the worst possible outcomes. But instead, Burks is already back to being productive on the field just several weeks later.
Burks spoke with the media, including WVSN, on Monday for the first time since returning after that scary night in Forth Worth, Texas. He was candid about the experience and what it did for his mental state as a player.
“I was definitely scared. Probably the scariest injury of my career. Once I hit the ground I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know how bad it was. The staff told me to squeeze their hand and I couldn’t, then I saw the stretcher,” Burks recalled about his night right before the hit and while being attended to on the field at Amon G. Carter Stadium.
WVU Safety Aubrey Burks on scary TCU incident: “I was definitely scared. Probably the scariest injury of my career. Once I hit the ground I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know how bad it was. The staff told me to squeeze their hand and I couldn’t, then I saw the…
— Mike J. Asti (@MikeAsti11) November 6, 2023
He then even detailed what it was like being in the hospital, seeing teammates be rolled in with him and how he found out the Mountaineers actually ended up winning the game.
Burks said he could have left the hospital and came back to Morgantown one day earlier than he did, but he wanted to remain there to support linebacker Trey Lathan who was still in a lot of pain at the time and is missing the rest of the season after breaking his leg. “I could have come back earlier to Morgantown but Trey (Lathan) was in a lot of pain so I told them we should stay until he’s okay.”
At first Burks did not want to know what was happening in the game as he was laying on a hospital bed, but he was overjoyed once he learned the final result.
“They told me they blocked a field goal and we were in victory formation. I kind of wanted to jump up but then I realized where I was at and what was going on so I figured I shouldn’t do that. So I just laid there and was happy about it,” he said with a smile.
That incident occurred on Sept. 30th and now less than two months later he’s coming off one of his best performances from another big win. Burks recorded three tackles, was fully engaged in leading the secondary and created a fumble recovery.
Burks talked about what he saw that led to the fumble. “Once I saw Marcis (Floyd) and Anthony (Wilson) on both sides of, me I knew someone had to get the ball. So I just reached my hand in there and ripped it out. I was glad our offense was able to go get points off it. That was some complimentary football.”
Burks’ effort against BYU earned him some national recognition as one of PFF’s top defensive players of the week and their highest graded safety.
PFF’s Week 10 College Football Team of the Week: Defense♨️ pic.twitter.com/CfDFubFGA6
— PFF College (@PFF_College) November 6, 2023
He’s now been back in action for three weeks since missing time following the incident at TCU. Thanks to a bye week, Burks only ended up having to sit out the Houston trip. But while he played against Oklahoma State and UCF, both Burks and defensive coordinator Jordan Lesley agree he wasn’t completely himself in those games.
Lesley feels Burks’ play answers the question if he’s all the way back now. “I think his plays tell you where he’s at. He’s all the way back,” said Lesley with confidence. He did also make it clear he was not expecting Burks to be at full strength, either mentally or physically at first.
This past Saturday night against BYU marks the game Burks is 100% and able to have the impact the defense was accused to getting from him in the past.
Burks also opened up about talking to a sports psychologist to help him with the mental aspect of playing again. He says that helped him, but he realizes he can’t be worried about getting injured while playing. Playing cautious or hesitant won’t allow him to be at his best.
Watch Aubrey Burks’ full interview below.
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