Crunch time; Burris hits hard as Minutemen gear for title run.

Position:SPORTS
 
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Byline: Carl Setterlund

AMHERST - It's a delight to watch when a local product goes on to college and helps his team succeed on a big stage.

Such is the case with Southbridge native David Burris, a defensive end at UMass, who led the team in sacks (8-1/2) and tackles for losses (16) last season.

Burris, a senior, made the team as a walk-on in 2004 and immediately was switched from linebacker to defensive end. That year, Burris made seven starts and never relinquished his starting job.

While always effective, the 6-foot, 242-pound end didn't break out until last season, when he recorded 77 tackles and emerged as a defensive leader as the Minutemen went 13-2 and advanced to the NCAA Division 1-AA championship game.

"David has taken himself to a point where last year he was an all-conference player," coach Don Brown said. "This year, I would think he's got to be looked at as one of top defensive ends in our league."

Echoing Brown's support, Burris has been named to the preseason all-star team in the Colonial Athletic Association, formerly the Atlantic 10. The teams are the same, but the CAA has assumed management of the conference.

Brown used the words bright, articulate, sharp, physical and fast to describe his star pass-rusher. "Those are all good qualities as far as I'm concerned," Brown said. "We're really expecting big things from him, and he's kind of the anchor of that line."

As the chronology of his UMass career attests, Burris has taken a workmanlike approach while preparing for this season. During the summer, Burris could be seen every day at the YMCA in Southbridge doing two-a-day workouts.

"It starts with treating your body right and working out every day," Burris said. "During the offseason, we work so, so hard, lifting every day. You just have to stay focused and know that everything you do is going to help you out in the long run."

The Southbridge High graduate will attest that his duty on the defensive line is two-fold. He expects to act as a leader on his line, while also providing results on the field.

"As a leader, being one of the only two seniors on the defensive line, I feel I need to be more vocal with the younger guys and let them know what I've learned in the past," Burris said. "There are always things to learn and things you can do to prove yourself. I take it one day at a time and try to do everything better than the day before."

Though still close in size to the linebackers, Burris always has used his sound...

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