Note: The final in our series on the Vikings' third-day draft picks.
The Vikings' decision to select Stephen Burton with their second of two seventh-round draft choices and the 236th pick overall in last month's draft, sent many scrambling to find out more about the wide receiver from West Texas A&M.
But Burton said he wasn't concerned about falling off the map by landing at the Division II school, despite the fact his talent level could have taken him elsewhere.
"It was kind of a long and bumpy road when I actually chose to go to West Texas," Burton said. "I was eventually going to go to the University of Oklahoma but I would have had to sit out the 2009 season to get the two classes necessary to transfer from my junior college. Why I decided to not sit out the 2009 season was because I love the game of football too much. My mother said, 'If you are good, you are going to be seen regardless of where you go.' That is when I made my decision to not go Division I and West Texas approached me. I just felt like that would be a home for me."
Burton, 6-1, 219 pounds, was a receiver and returned kicks for two seasons (2007 and 2008) at Long Beach City College for the Vikings (that is correct) after going to Lakewood (Calif.) Artesia High School. Burton earned second-team all-conference honors in his first season at Long Beach and was a first-team all conference selection the following year.
In his first season playing in a mostly spread offense at West Texas A&M, he had three 100-yard receiving games. Burton had 70 receptions for 1,021 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2010 at West Texas A&M and also had three 100-yard receiving games.
Asked to compare himself to an NFL receiver, Burton selected Miami's Brandon Marshall.
He also said he has handled kickoff and punt returns and feels most comfortable on kick returns. The Vikings likely will have a wide open competition for the punt return job with candidates including wide receivers Greg Camarillo and Jaymar Johnson.
Rick Spielman, Vikings vice president of player personnel, said Burton's ability to return kicks and punts made him a more attractive option in the draft. "There is another big athlete, big receiver that ran a 4.44 [in the 40-yard dash] on our watches that has some natural hands and play-making ability," Spielman said.
Burton said he talked to the Vikings at the Texas vs. The Nation game, but that there was no contact with the team beyond that. While the Vikings needed to add depth at wide receiver, Burton was the only player at that position they selected with one of their 10 picks.
"It was very exciting to get the call," Burton said in a press release issued by West Texas A&M.
"I'll be honest, I was so excited I don't really know exactly who called me from the Vikings. I know there were a couple of people that were on the call with me, but it was a very exciting moment. I'm just thankful for the opportunity to get to continue playing football and to have the opportunity to play at the professional level. I'm ready to get to camp and start working."