TRAVERSE CITY — Josh Burnham posed with a mock-up of the Heisman Trophy on one of his many visits to Notre Dame’s campus.
He may as well. He seems to have won just about every other football award.
The Record-Eagle’s Football Player of the Year award doesn’t come with a fancy trophy, but that’s probably for the best. Burnham is running out of space for all his.
He even plans to put the giant MLive Michigan Football Player of the Year trophy back at Traverse City Central. It’s one trophy he only gets to keep for a year anyway.
“I have honestly lost count, I think seven or eight,” Burnham said. “I think I was there like three weeks in a row, just back to back to back. It was a lot of fun with every home game.”
Burnham is enrolling early at Notre Dame in January. That’ll allow him to work out with the team and play in the spring game. But it also costs him his senior seasons of basketball and track at Central.
“I miss being around all the guys and having some fun with them,” Burnham said.
So until he leaves, he’s been helping out as a team manager for the Trojan basketball team.
Once he arrives at Notre Dame, he’ll take 15 credit hours of classes in the spring and 12 each fall during the playing season, plus some summer courses as needed.
“It’s obviously going to be pretty tough,” Burnham said. “I mean, they’re a great academic school. So it’s going to be challenging, but I’m looking forward to all that it’ll bring.”
Burnham said about 17 of the Irish’s 21 signees are going early.
Notre Dame kept almost all of its recruiting class intact after head coach Brian Kelly bolted for Louisiana State University. The Irish turned to defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman to lead the program.
“Now that Coach Freeman’s there, he’s definitely brought something that all the players liked,” Burnham said. “ And, thankfully, we’re all sticking together.”
Clark Lea, Notre Dame’s defensive coordinator from 2018-20, first recruited Burnham to South Bend. But when Lea left Notre Dame to take the head coaching job at Vanderbilt, defensive assistant Nick Lezynski took over.
“We’re like family already,” Burnham said. “I’m just super thankful to be able to have him around.”
Burnham was one of several high-profile recruits that on social media openly encouraged the school to hire Freeman. The Irish didn’t waste much time, hiring him just a few days after Kelly left.
Freeman was on his way to Traverse City to visit Burnham when athletic director Jack Swarbrick called and informed him that he had to interview for the head coaching position.
“He was less than an hour away and had to pull a U-ie on the highway and go back,” Burnham said.