Derwin Burgess, Jr. is not one to shy away from the big moment. Just ask Nebraska or James Madison or Ball State. And you can now add Wisconsin to that list.
Last year Burgess, who leads the Sun Belt Conference in catches with 22 and is 10th in the NCAA, set a school single game record with 12 at Nebraska.
Against James Madison he caught the game winning touchdown with 1:18 to play in the Eagles’ 45-38 upset of the then No. 25 Dukes. Against the Cardinals he had five catches for 133 yards and then in last week’s bitter 35-14 loss at Wisconsin he had eight for 124 yards.
Burgess will be a key figure on Saturday when the Eagles look to rebound at Ball State. The 2 p.m. game will be televised on ESPN+.
The game with the Badgers was a frustrating one for the Eagles to say the least.
Georgia Southern (2-1) had six turnovers — five of them coming off interceptions of quarterback Davis Brin —while making eight trips inside the 35-yard line and converting 52% of their third-down opportunities. To manage only 14 points pointed out what kind of day it was for Coach Clay Helton’s team.
While many may point the finger at Brin, the junior wide receiver, who is etching his name into the record book along with fellow wide receiver Khaleb Hood, says his quarterback is not at fault.
“Davis is a warrior,” Burgess said. “Those six turnovers look like his fault but it led to the running backs, to the receivers, to the tight end, the offensive line.
“It’s not just him but, of course, he’ll get the fingers pointed at him and stuff like that. We all played a role in that.”
While Burgess wouldn’t say it the “warrior” label can also easily be applied to him.
Since arriving on campus as a January graduate of Riverdale High School the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Burgess has been nothing but a gamer.
He needs three receptions to become only the third Georgia Southern receiver with 100 or more. Hood is the current all-time leader with 171 and Raja Andrews had 127 — but more importantly, he shows up in big games.
And Ball State is a big one as the Eagles will be looking to get back on the winning track. It was the same scenario last year when Georgia Southern beat Ball State, 34-23, after losing to UAB.
For his career, Burgess now has 97 catches for 1,303 yards and 10 touchdowns as he teams with Hood to give the Eagles the best one-two punch in the Sun Belt Conference. Hood has 20 catches which is second in the SBC and 17th in the NCAA.
Burgess said he anticipates the Eagles being in the right frame of mind mentally as they go on the road for the second straight week.
“That game (Wisconsin) hurt us as a team but it didn’t break us down,” Burgess said. “It actually built us together and (helped us) see where we are as a team. As a team I know we’ll bounce back this weekend.
“Ball State is a good team,” Burgess said. “They just played the No. 1 team in the country in Georgia and they put up a fight with them. We know them from last year and know they’re not going to back down.”