Wildcats former walk-on LB Chris Bergin is Semi-Finalist for Burlsworth Award

Chris Bergin

EVANSTON, Ill.- Northwestern senior linebacker Chris Bergin has been named as a semi-finalist for the 2020 Burlsworth Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s top player who began their collegiate career as a walk-on.  

Bergin is one of 10 semi-finalists to be under consideration for the prestigious honor. He joins kicker Keith Duncan of Iowa as the only other player from the Big Ten to appear on the list.  

Bergin’s 58 total tackles rank third among all Wildcats this season, trailing only fellow senior linebackers Paddy Fisher and Blake Gallagher. Despite playing in just seven games, the Bloomfield Hills, Mich. native set a career-high in passes defended (5) and recorded his first career interception against Nebraska on November 7. He ranks 11th in the Big Ten with 8.3 tackles per game and has posted three games this season with 10-plus tackles. 

Bergin earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Week honors following his performance against the Cornhuskers, as he recorded double-digit tackles in back-to-back games for the second time in his career and posted a career-high in pass breakups.   

The senior linebacker began his Northwestern career primarily serving on special teams. Despite being a walk-on for Dan and Susan Jones Family Head Coach Pat Fitzgerald and Co., Bergin played in 10 games and was one of 13 first-year players to contribute toward the ‘Cats 10-win season in 2017.  

The Burlsworth Trophy recognizes student-athletes who embody the spirit, character and athletic prowess of Brandon Burlsworth, a former walk-on at the University of Arkansas. Burlsworth was a three-year starter for the Razorbacks and named as an All-American in 1998. He later was selected by the Indianapolis Colts with the 63rd pick of the 1999 NFL Draft, but was tragically killed in a car accident just 11 days later. The Burlsworth Foundation works in collaboration with the trophy, aiming to support children who have limited opportunities. 

The selection committee will announce the three finalists for the Burlsworth Trophy on December 22. The winner will be recognized via a virtual ceremony on January 4.