There have been many notable pass rushers throughout the years of Syracuse football. The 46th addition to the Fizz’s Top 100 just so happens to also be a New York native.
Rob Burnett was born in Long Island, and attended Newfield High School. While his Newfield Wolverine football team wasn’t very successful, Burnett still managed to earn all-Long Island honors his senior year. He then came to Syracuse under the tutelage of Head Coach Dick MacPherson.
Burnett played for four seasons at SU (1986-89), and contrary to his high school experience, was a member of three great Syracuse teams. In 1987, Burnett’s sophomore year, the Orange finished undefeated, and a tie against Auburn in the Sugar Bowl was the only result keeping SU from a perfect 12-0 record. Burnett made a noticeable impact, starting at defensive tackle on a unit that gave up on average less than two touchdowns per game. Opponents only rushed for 3 yards a carry against the Orange defensive line, which also featured future pros Ted Gregory and Paul Frase. Burnett shone alongside the two upperclassmen, tying the Syracuse single-game sack record on the road in Pittsburgh.
Burnett, now the leader of the defensive line in 1988, helped SU to a 10-2 record, an AP poll ranking of 13, and unlike the previous year, a win over LSU in the Hall of Fame Bowl. In 1989, the Orange finished 8-4, but claimed another postseason trophy after beating Georgia in the Peach Bowl. Burnett wrapped up his career on the Hill tied for fourth in total sacks with 18. He was named to the Syracuse All-Century team while still in the NFL.
Burnett went on to have a 13-year NFL career. He was drafted by the Browns in the fifth round, and played in Cleveland for six years (including a Pro Bowl season in 1994) until the franchise moved to Baltimore. Burnett stuck with the Ravens for four more years, and recorded 10.5 sacks in 2000-2001, the same year that the team won its first Super Bowl. He spent two more years with the Miami Dolphins, then retired after the 2003 season.