Ron Burton, a 21-year coaching veteran who also played four seasons in the NFL, is in his first year on the Spartan staff as the defensive line coach. Burton has spent the past 10 seasons as the defensive line coach at Air Force.
During his 10 seasons at Air Force, Burton helped the Falcons to a combined record of 67-57 (.540), including a school-record six consecutive postseason bowl appearances (2007-12), while developing some of the top defensive linemen in school history. Burton also served as the program's NFL liaison.
In 2008, Jake Paulson became the first-ever defensive lineman at Air Force to earn first-team All-Mountain West honors after recording 14.5 tackles for loss and nine sacks. One year later, nose guard Ben Garland was a second-team All-MWC selection and signed a free agent contract with the Denver Broncos. In the Falcons' 2010 Independence Bowl victory over Georgia Tech, defensive lineman Rick Ricketts, a second-team All-MWC choice, was named the defensive most valuable player of the game. Burton also coached two-time Academic All-American (defensive end) Ryan Carter.
Before arriving at Air Force, Burton spent one season (2002) at Grand Valley State and helped lead the Lakers to a perfect 14-0 record and the 2002 NCAA Division II National Championship, the first in school history.
Burton has Big Ten coaching experience, as he spent five seasons as the linebackers coach at Indiana from 1997-2001. Burton mentored two Butkus Award nominees, Jabar Robinson and Justin Smith, during his time with the Hoosiers. Robinson led the team in tackles two-straight years and is eighth in school history with 339 career tackles, while Smith played one season (2003) in the NFL and ranks ninth in IU history with 326 tackles.
Burton also coached linebackers at Eastern Michigan for two seasons (1995-96) and landed his first full-time coaching position as the defensive backs coach at Morehead State (1994).
A four-year letterman (1982-86) at North Carolina, Burton helped the Tar Heels to three bowl appearances during his career and was named team captain and best defensive lineman as a senior. He graduated from UNC with a bachelor's degree in industrial relations in 1987.
Following graduation, Burton spent four seasons playing linebacker in the NFL for the Dallas Cowboys (1987-89), Phoenix Cardinals (1989) and Los Angeles Raiders (1990). Burton started 15 games for the Cowboys in 1988 and recorded two sacks, and played on the 1990 Raiders team that advanced to the 1990 AFC Championship Game.
After his NFL career, Burton returned to North Carolina and spent two years as a graduate assistant (1992-93) for the Tar Heels.
Burton was an all-state selection as a linebacker at Highland Springs (Va.) High School.
A native of Highland Springs, Va., Burton and his wife, Andrea, have four children: Ronald, Ryan, Roya and Reid.
THE BURTON FILE
YEARS AT MICHIGAN STATE: First. Hired Feb. 8, 2013, from Air Force.
PREVIOUS COACHING EXPERIENCE: College - Graduate assistant coach (1992-93) at North Carolina; defensive backs at Morehead State (1994); linebackers at Eastern Michigan (1995-96); linebackers at Indiana (1997-2001); defensive line at Grand Valley State (2002); defensive line at Air Force (2003-12).
EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in industrial relations from North Carolina in 1987.
PLAYING EXPERIENCE: College - Four-year letterman as a defensive lineman at North Carolina (1982-86).
POSTSEASON EXPERIENCE: Player - 1982 Sun Bowl, 1983 Peach Bowl, 1986 Aloha Bowl; Coach - 1993 Peach Bowl, 1993 Gator Bowl, 2002 NCAA Division II Playoffs, 2007 Armed Forces Bowl, 2008 Armed Forces Bowl, 2009 Armed Forces Bowl, 2010 Independence Bowl, 2011 Military Bowl, 2012 Armed Forces Bowl.
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