Marvin Burdette's football journey from high school to college has been like going from daylight to dark; a very bright daylight to a very dark night.
At South Panola High School, one of the nation's top high school programs, Burdette experienced high school football at the very highest level. He was a three-year starting linebacker for a team that won two Mississippi state championships and had an 89-game winning streak.
When he came to UAB it would be reasonable to expect the good times to continue, but they didn't. In Burdette's three years the Blazers have won only 12 games
"Coming from the program I came from - South Panola, where we had that long winning streak - and man you're not used to losing," Burdette said. "Then you see the guys and how hard they are working and you know hard they are working and you know what it takes and how hard you have to work at it, It's a devastating feeling when you come out here every day to practice and then you don't get the results you are wishing for or hoping for. It's been hard but some things you have to fight through and let the good Lord take care it."
Despite the losing, Burdette, 5-foot-11 and 230 pounds, has continued to excel. He has made 249 tackles to rank 11th on the UAB career tackles list. With a good season, there is no telling how high he can climb.
"My Dad always told me you go out on the field and you work hard and you put forth effort and you put God first and you give it your all," he said. "I try to do that and I think it's not just me it's the guys in front of me and without them it isn't possible for me. I thank them and I put my work in just like everybody else and I let the chips fall where they may.
"I pray about a lot of things and I know if it comes I let it come naturally. I go out there and I play my heart out and I'm just hungry for that ball and if the tackles add up they add up."
Burdette and his Blazers teammates are going into the 2012 season with a renewed sense that this will be the year UAB puts things together and posts more wins under new coach Garrick McGee and his new coaching staff.
"They want the best out of you," Burdette says of the new coaching regime. "All coaches say they want the best out of you but this coaching staff they ask for it, they demand it, they want it. It gives you some pride to play for someone like that. You have some coaches that tell you they want to best, but they don't act like it.
"These guys they are on you every day, they want you to do the right things whether it's on the field or off the field. They are constantly grinding and putting it in your head that they want you to do right, so when you got a staff like that and men like that you want t play for them.
"For me, it just does me honor to be under any of them," he said. "I've been under a lot of defensive coordinators and I've been proud to play for them all, but for the time and state that I'm in right now, I can't ask for nothing better."
Burdette feels the difference on the practice field.
"We trying to get to where we start fast and finish even faster. We come out here and the intensity is high. It pays for itself," Burdette said.
"You can ask anybody on any team and their hopes are high. I've been here three years and it hasn't been looking too good, but right now my expectations are to the max."