NEW CASTLE —
THE ROAD AHEAD
Derrick remains on scholarship at Pitt (a “permanent medical,” which allows for injured players whose careers are over due to injury or other health conditions to remain on scholarship and earn their degree, according to Pitt senior associate athletic director and Neshannock Township native E.J. Borghetti).
He reported to camp as a student coach last month, but left after two weeks and has not returned to the sideline.
“When it came right down to it, I had a hard time handling it,” he said. “I would listen to guys complaining about the heat or how hard they were working and I would think, ‘Man, do you know how lucky you are? I would give anything to be in your shoes.’
“I guess I just wasn’t ready to be that close to it.”
Derrick has returned to classes at Pitt, where he majors in criminal justice.
With the entire Burns family quite involved in their church, New Life Baptist in New Wilmington, Derrick plans on teaching Bible school and serving as an inspirational speaker in the future, in addition to working at a juvenile detention center. He said he might be interested in coaching down the road.
“Just not now while this is all so fresh,” he said.
He bravely says he knows he is lucky to be alive, but admits he yearns to put on a football uniform again, especially since he carries no symptoms of the stroke.
“Football has been my life since I was 7 years old, so this is just been such an adjustment for me,” Derrick said. “It bothers me, sure, but I also know I could have been paralyzed or worse. I have had to accept that God has a plan for me and that plan no longer includes playing football. But maybe this opens the door for something bigger and better.
“I just have to trust,” he added, “that God has chosen to take my life in another direction now.”
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