Luke Falk is the winner of the 2017 Burlsworth Award, given annually to the top college football player who began his career as a walk-on, and no one will accuse the Washington State quarterback of letting the honor go to his head.
“It’s a total team award,” Falk told 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jessamyn McIntyre on Monday afternoon. “It’s pretty cool to walk-on, being recognized and things like that. … I’m just happy that we were able to get it.”
Falk’s response is typical of his personality. Although he holds a litany of Pac-12 passing records, he never misses an opportunity to praise a teammate or share the credit, just as he did after winning the Burlsworth Award.
Falk also took time to share his gratitude for WSU coach Mike Leach.
“The biggest thing I think is he just gave me an opportunity,” Falk said of Leach. “When I first got on campus he said he’d give me a fair shot to be able to compete for the job, and he definitely stayed true to his word, and I’m forever grateful that I was able to get the opportunity to play for him and what we’ve been able to accomplish as a team.”
Falk topped Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, the winner of the award the last two years. Mayfield was announced later in the day as one of the finalists for the Heisman Trophy.
“I was joking with him – he gave me his award, he can go win the Heisman now,” Falk quipped.
Falk and the 9-3 Cougars are preparing for a second-straight Holiday Bowl appearance to cap off a season in which the senior threw for 3,593 yards and 30 touchdown.
Falk walked on at Washington State after high school rather than accepting a financial aid package to Cornell. He became the all-time Pac-12 Conference leader in touchdown passes this season and is among the top 10 in NCAA history in passing yards, touchdowns and total offense.
The Burlsworth Award is named for former Arkansas offensive lineman Brandon Burlsworth, who died in a car accident shortly after being drafted by the Indianapolis Colts.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.