Burfict: Cleared To Play vs. Idaho State

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IISeptember 4, 2009

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 13: Head coach Dennis Erickson of the Arizona State Sun Devils walks on the sidelines during the game with the Washington Huskies on October 13, 2007 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Arizona State won 44-20. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Vontaze Burfict, one of the most heralded recruits in Arizona State history, was walking on pins and needles this past week. Burfict was making a name for himself, not by talking, but with his defensive prowess. 

Sometimes players come in overhyped and in other cases the top notch players turn out to be standout performers earlier rather than later. Vontaze Burfict fits the mold of the superstar recruit that every school in the country would have loved to have. However, when USC and other PAC-10 schools received word on Burfict's academic standing, they all backed off. Although one school in the desert kept fighting and pursuing "a Ray Lewis" type of linebacker. 

That school was Arizona State. Dennis Erickson knows an awful lot about Ray Lewis. Erickson recruited Lewis while coaching at the University of Miami. There was no doubt in Erickson's mind that Burfict would be a difference maker for his Sun Devil defense. 

Today, the Sun Devils received official word from the NCAA Clearinghouse, that Vontaze Burfict was cleared to play in the opener Saturday night vs. Idaho State. 

The top linebacker in the country, according to many media outlets, will back up senior linebacker Gerald Munns in the opener. However, as many around the program feel, Burfict could take over the middle linebacker spot rather quickly.  

Dennis Erickson and recruiting coordinator Matt Lubick certainly struck gold with Burfict signing in February. Moreover, the news from the NCAA Clearinghouse today, will allow for fans to see what Erickson calls, the "next Ray Lewis" in a stadium near you. 

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