Achieving a goal, but with a twist

Former LAHS student-athlete switches sports to reach D-I

Dallas Burke is pictured in a game for Los Alamitos High in his senior year in 2018. Photo by Dave Peeters

Former Los Alamitos High student-athlete Dallas Burke announced on Twitter on Jan. 20 that he had accepted a full scholarship to attend the University of Texas, El Paso to continue his education and play football for the Miners. About a week later, Burke, who played for Long Beach City College last year, was in Texas ready to start practicing with the team.

Dallas Burke in his LBCC headshot. Photo by Jerome Thomas

It was a quick transition, but for Burke, that seems to be the norm in the past few years. Burke was a standout baseball player for the Griffins, starting for three years for the baseball team. As a football player, however, he played because he enjoyed the game and competing alongside his friends. Yet, through three years of high school football, he had not even started a varsity game.

“I was really a late bloomer in football,” Burke said in a recent phone interview.

After his junior year he decided he wanted to take football a little more seriously. He worked with former University of Florida running back, Emmanuel Moody. Moody helped improve his technique and speed and in his senior year, Burke cracked the starting lineup as a free safety.

Still, at the end of the season he thought any college opportunities for him would most likely come through the baseball diamond. He was invited to play in the LA/OC All Star football game and it was there he was encouraged by LBCC coaches to give football more consideration.

LBCC Head Coach Brett Peabody said they had started to take notice of him in his senior year at Los Alamitos High. Peabody said they were impressed with his physical play and that he played the game smartly, taking good angles to make plays.

“He seemed to be a general on the field for them,” Peabody said.

Those leadership skills would eventually lead to Burke getting voted team captain. He said Burke was not abrasive but was a young man who was not afraid to speak his mind. He credited Defensive Coordinator Steve Ruedaflores and Defensive Backs coach Darnell Lacy with helping Burke be successful. However, he also noted that Burke’s work ethic and heart were in making the most of the opportunities.

“He came out and really kind of blew us away,” Peabody said.

Burke and the Miners were set to begin spring practice this week, with the hope of a full fall season on the horizon. After playing with LBCC in 2019, the 2020 season was cancelled due to COVID. Burke had shown enough potential to get an offer from UTEP. Peabody said that with uncertainty still abounding, he encouraged Burke to take the opportunity to move forward.

Burke agreed and signed on with UTEP.

“I couldn’t turn it down,” Burke said.

He plans to major in Business Management and has a long-term goal of earning an MBA. He said it was always his goal to play Division I college athletics, he just imagined it would be in baseball. But his determination and some assistance from coaches from high school through community college flipped that plan. But it’s worked out so far.

“We’re real proud of him and real happy for him,” Peabody said.

UTEP Burke Bio Stats: Saw action in 10 games as a freshman at Long Beach City College … Earned First Team All-Northern Conference honors and named a team captain in his rookie campaign … Recorded 42 total tackles (30 solo, 12 assists) with an average of 4.2 tackles per game … Also had three interceptions on the season with 28 return yards … Totaled 3.0 tackles for loss (6 yards) and two pass breakups on the season … Helped guide Long Beach City College to a 7-3 record as a freshman in 2019 … Graduated from Los Alamitos High School in 2019.

Achieving a goal, but with a twist