Zachary D. Burns '99
Hometown: Lebanon, OH
Year Inducted: 2012
A tight end who used a combination of size and strength to make incredible plays, Zach Burns arrived on College Hill in the fall of 1995. He was a key recruit of Head Coach Mark Whipple’s as he looked to re-establish Brown Football as the team to beat in the Ivy League. Through steady improvement and a commitment to the success of the squad, Burns walked through the Van Wickle Gates in the spring of 1999 as the first Bear ever to be named an Associated Press First-Team All-American football player.
A native of Lebanon, Ohio, Burns earned a spot in the Brown line-up during his freshman season, contributing to the special teams and serving as a back-up tight end, and made his presence known from the beginning. During his sophomore season, injuries on the team necessitated his move to the offensive line, a shift that he embraced. He started seven games in this role, showcasing his skills on the field, as well as his unselfish commitment to the success of the Bears. He returned to his spot at tight end in the fall of 1996, playing an integral role in a record-breaking offensive season for Brown. He made 19 catches for 263 receiving yards and two touchdowns during his junior campaign, tallying a career-high five catches for 83 receiving yards in a game against Dartmouth. He was named to the second team All-Ivy for his performances during the season.
In 1998, Burns established himself as the top tight end in the Ivy League by making 58 catches for 703 receiving yards and six touchdowns. His catches and receiving yards were records for a Brown tight end, and his receptions ranked sixth all-time at Brown and third in the Ivy League. Nationally, he ranked 29th in catches and 48th in receiving yards. He made a career-high nine catches at URI, tying the mark in a later game at Fordham, and he notched his career high in receiving yards when he recorded 115 against Penn. However, his best play of the year came in a game against Dartmouth, when he caught a 24-yard touchdown pass with four seconds remaining and ran it through three defenders into the end zone for the game-winning score. His numerous accolades at the end of the season were highlighted by the Associated Press First-Team All-American honor. He was also selected to the First Team All-Ivy, the First Team ESPN/USA All-American squad and the First Team Football Gazette All-American team. Zach was honored with the Edward T. Brackett Award, given to the Brown University football player in the senior class who, during his varsity career, demonstrated the greatest improvement in his performance on the playing field. Burns’ outstanding senior campaign culminated with his selection to the 61st Annual Kelly Tire Blue/Gray Senior All-Star Football Classic, a game he participated in on Christmas Day 1998 in Montgomery, Alabama.