Healthy again, Burney hopes to help 'Hoos

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (CBS19 SPORTS) -- Richard Burney was with the first group for Virginia's final team run of the off-season Friday morning. As he crossed the practice field at the McCue Center afterward, the fifth-year defensive lineman was asked how he was feeling.

"I'm just happy to be out here," Burney replied. "I'm happy that I was able to finish this last summer with my team, and I'm just feeling good about going into fall camp."

Burney had spent most of his first three years at UVA -- he's one of just a half-dozen players remaining on the roster who pre-date head coach Bronco Mendenhall and his coaching staff -- at tight end. He moved to defensive end leading up to the Military Bowl in 2017, then remained on defense heading into the 2018 season.

Burney registered eight tackles, including two for a loss, and forced a fumble as a starting defensive end for the Wahoos through their first three games last fall. But Burney didn't play again, missing UVA's final 10 games because of an undisclosed medical condition.

After Friday morning's workout, Burney described himself as feeling "100 percent" healthy. He's listed at 275 pounds on UVA's online roster, and said his weight is about where it was last year, but that his body fat percentage was down and he had added some muscle this off-season.

Without Burney last year, the Wahoos were forced to rely more on younger defensive linemen like then-freshmen Aaron Faumui and Jordan Redmond, and redshirt freshman Tommy Christ. Those three are back, along with versatile three-year starter Eli Hanback and rising junior Mandy Alonso. UVA also added four-star lineman Jowon Briggs and three-star lineman Ben Smiley in recruiting.

A position that was regarded as lacking depth last year will be more crowded and competitive this summer. Burney is looking forward to being back into the mix.

"Stay healthy. That's my number one goal. And then just do as much as can, and play to my potential like I know how I can," he said Friday. "I'm just very grateful and very blessed to be able to play this game I still love. And I'm ready to finish it out with a bang."

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