Cornell Burbage graduated from Kentucky in 1987, where he had 994 career receiving yards playing for the Wildcats. Although he went undrafted, Cornell’s timing couldn’t have been any better as the NFL Players’ Strike happened. As many teams had already scouted the college ranks for draft prospects, some teams went a step further and identified players that they could sign if the strike happened. Cornell was one of the replacement players the Dallas Cowboys brought into camp. He’d make 7 receptions for 168 yards and 2 TDs, playing for the ‘Rhinestone Cowboys’. His first TD would be the first scored by a replacement player during the strike. Burbage would be one of those rare players who made the cut after the strike was over. and play with the Cowboys through the 1989 season.
The New York-New Jersey Knights were a Run ‘N Shoot team in the WLAF, so receivers were a bigger part of the team’s offensive game plan. Cornell was drafted by the Knights in the first round of the league’s initial pool of wide receivers in 1991. Despite the team’s instability at quarterback and rotating door offensive line, Burbage hauled in 22 catches for 419 yards and a TD. His 19 yards per reception ranked 4th in the league. He’d play in 1992 for the team as well, recording career highs with 35 catches for 478 yards, and see duty as the team’s primary kick returner with 22 kick returns for 592 yards, a 26.9 yard average and a 101 yard TD.
Cornell briefly coached at Eastern Kentucky and posted a 7-4 record. He lives in Lexington and has worked for the Parks and Recreations department there.
NFL Rec 26 Yds 352 Avg 13.5 Td 2 Lg 77t
KR 23 Yds 503 Avg 21.9 Td 0 Lg 53
Pr 8 Yds 34 Avg 4.2 Td 0 Lg 13
WLAF Rec 57 Yds 897 Avg 15.7 Td 2 Lg 49
Kr 30 Yds 728 Avg 24.3 Td 1 Lg 101t
Pr 11 Yds 48 Avg 4,4 Td 0 Lg 14