Burfict’s 2012 campaign was arguably the best rookie season in Bengals history for a college free agent ... Claimed starting WLB spot that was opened after Game 1 when starter Thomas Howard suffered season-ending injury, and ended regular season with team-leading 174 tackles ... Logged double-digit tackles in 11 of his 14 starts, including team season-high 23 on Dec. 30 vs. Baltimore ... Talented prospect was bypassed in 2012 draft, labeled as an undisciplined and out-of-shape player, but with Bengals he improved conditioning, delivered consistent play and showed the potential that once had him rated a possible high pick.
CAREER TRANSACTIONS: Signed with Bengals as a college free agent on 5-2-12.
NO APPRENTICESHIP: Burfict in 2012 set a Bengals mark for most starts (14) in a rookie season by a player signed as a college free agent. The Elias Sports Bureau reports that since the 1970 merger, only two undrafted rookies had previously started as many as half of Cincinnati’s games — LB Armegis Spearman of Ole Miss (11 games in 2000) and T Kevin Sargent of Eastern Washington (eight games in 1992).
2012 GENERAL: Played in all 16 games, with 14 starts (Games 3-16), and also started Wild Card playoff game ... Led team in tackles (174) ... Also had one sack and three passes defensed, as well as a FR on defense and another one on special teams ... Had team’s four highest game-totals in tackles this season — 23 on Dec. 30 vs. Baltimore, 16 on Oct. 21 vs. Pittsburgh, 15 on Dec. 2 at San Diego and 14 on Dec. 9 vs. Dallas ... Second on team in tackles-for-loss (eight), and had five QB pressures.
2012 GAME-BY-GAME: Played on special teams Sept. 10 at Baltimore (no statistics) ... Shared time at WLB Sept. 16 vs. Cleveland, and logged six tackles ... Credited with his first career start Sept. 23 at Washington and recorded seven tackles ... Led team in tackles (12) Sept. 30 at Jacksonville, and logged first career sack — 11-yarder of Blaine Gabbert in fourth quarter ... Tied for second on team in tackles (10) Oct. 7 vs. Miami, and recovered a fumble on a Dolphins punt return ... Led team in tackles (11) Oct. 14 at Cleveland, and had a pass defensed (batted pass) ... Recorded team-high 16 tackles, including 14 solos, Oct. 21 vs. Pittsburgh, and his two tackles-for-loss included a stop of WR Mike Wallace for minus-six ... Second on team in tackles (11) Nov. 11 vs. N.Y. Giants, including a third-down stop of RB Ahmad Bradshaw at Cincinnati 5-yard line in first quarter, forcing Giants to settle for FG ... Six tackles Nov. 18 at Kansas City, and recovered Peyton Hillis fumble at Chiefs 34 in first quarter ... Led team in tackles (13) Nov. 25 vs. Oakland, and his two tackles-for-loss included a shared fourth-and-one stop with DE Robert Geathers against FB Owen Schmitt at Bengals 45 ... Led team with 15 tackles Dec. 2 at San Diego, including nine solo stops ... Led team with 14 tackles Dec. 9 vs. Dallas ... Led team in tackles (10) Dec. 13 vs. Philadelphia, including three tackles-for-loss and a QB pressure ... Led team in tackles (12) Dec. 23 at Pittsburgh ... Team season-high 23 tackles, including 14 solos (tied season high) Dec. 30 vs. Baltimore ... Logged 10 tackles in Wild Card playoff 1-5-13 at Houston.
COLLEGE: Played three seasons at MLB for Arizona State (2009-11), seeing action in 37 games with 32 starts ... Totaled 228 career tackles, including 22.5 for loss, seven sacks, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and an INT ... Played in all 13 games in 2011, with 12 starts, and logged 69 tackles, including five sacks ... Reached semifinals consideration as a junior as a candidate for Butkus Award (top college LB) ... In sophomore season in 2010, led team with a career-best 90 tackles, and also had two forced fumbles ... Earned the starting MLB spot in the fourth game of his freshman season, logging 69 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles and two fumble recoveries ... Named the 2009 Pac-10 Defensive Freshman of the Year, and was selected to several Freshman All-America lists.PERSONAL: Hometown is Corona, Calif. ... Attended Centennial High School, rated a national prep power, and helped lead team to No. 2 national ranking as senior ... Prep All-American, and one of most highly-rated prospects in the country as senior ... Majored in Interdisciplinary Studies at Arizona State, with emphasis in criminal justice and sociology ... First name is pronounced “VONN-tez” and last name is pronounced “BER-fict” (rhymes with “perfect”).
Seventeen years later Marvin Lewis is still molding and it just so happens to be another young linebacker. The 20-year-old first-rounder out of Miami in Ray Anthony Lewis has morphed into Vontaze Burfict.