UCF linebacker Chequan Burkett juggles football, school and fatherhood | Orlando Sentinel

From: Orlando Sentinel

Date of Publication: August 22, 2017

UCF linebacker Chequan Burkett and teammate Nate Evans were on their way back from Publix last week when he got the call: his wife was going into labor.

“She said she had some pains in her back and she was like ‘I think he’s coming,’” Burkett recalled.

While his wife, Megan, was having the baby in Alabama, Burkett raced home from the store so that he could watch the birth via video streaming app Facetime. He may not have been in the hospital room, but he’ll never forget watching Khyro Burkett come into the world.

“It was a special moment,” Burkett said. “The baby came out and just, it was an amazing moment.”

Burkett has already built a life for himself off the field. He met Megan just before his junior year at Carver High in Montgomery, Ala., and they got married about two years ago. They also have a 1-year-old daughter named Millani.

With UCF in the middle of preseason camp, Khyro’s birth did not come at an ideal time. But Burkett was touched when he found out that the team would give him a few days off to go home and meet his son.

“He didn’t want to necessarily leave camp and, to the coaching staff’s credit, they were like, ‘No, you need to go,’” UCF linebackers coach Jovan Dewitt said. “So he was able to go home and be there right after the birth and so he was excited about that and we as a program were really excited and happy for him.”

“God blessed me with talents that some people don’t have, so I’m just trying to take advantage of that,” he said. “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to be there with my wife and my daughter and my … son who just was born, so that’s a sacrifice I had to make. But I’m just trying to go all out this year and make those sacrifices worth it.”

While Burkett would love to make it to the next level, he is comforted knowing that falling short just means he will have more time to be with his family.

“We got a house out in Alabama, so once school’s over, I’ll go back there, get that situated,” he said. “If the next level isn’t there for me, then I’ll be able to have a life outside of football with my wife, my daughter and my son.”

Being a father and a football player has been a tough adjustment, but Burkett feels like he has found a balance. His wife knows his schedule and they Facetime at least twice a day.

“It’s coming kind of natural to me, being able to manage time spent with my family,” he said. “It was hard at first, but now it’s just natural. … I’m glad they invented Facetime.”

Despite his extra responsibilities, Burkett is one of the leaders of the linebackers and his coaches were pleased to see him ramp up his effort when he returned from meeting his son.

“He feels like he’s missed some time, so he wants to make it up,” Dewitt said. “He’s one of the greats because he’s always looking to get extra work, whether he’s running down on scout teams, scout special teams or just doing anything he possibly can to make the whole unit better.”

“He’s a guy that they look to as a leader amongst our team,” Dewitt said. “They see him doing all the work and all the things he has to juggle just on a life basis, with kids and a wife and a family and then school and then football on top of it, it makes you realize you can get a lot of other things done in life.”

Burkett’s teammates have been especially supportive of him. After he went home, the defense sent him a video congratulating him.

“It’s pretty cool because it’s not every day that you get to be happy for someone like that,” junior linebacker Pat Jasinski said. “I think he’s so happy and proud of what he’s got and it’s cool just to kind of rally behind him and … have his back.”

The team is excited to get the chance to meet Khyro at some point this season. Evans said he would have been up for going to Alabama to see him if not for preseason camp obligations. Burkett isn’t sure yet when Khyro will be able to visit Orlando, but he is happy that he will get to meet the team.

“Of course I’ll bring him around all the coaches, all the players,” Burkett said. “He’s a future Knight, so he’s gonna be a part of the family.”

About Christian Simmons 43 Articles
My name is Christian Simmons, and I recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with my master's degree in integrated business management. My undergrad degree from UCF is in journalism. I'm passionate about sports in all its forms. I've had internships with the Sun Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, NPR affiliate WMFE and CBS affiliate WKMG. I'm also the co-founder and editor of Knight Sports Now, a student publication that has covered UCF sports since 2017. As a freelance reporter, my stories have appeared in the Dallas Morning News, the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, The New Orleans Advocate, The Advocate in Baton Rouge, La. and the Baltimore Sun, among others.