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"To Thine Own Self Be True"

Blake Burgess, Auburn Football player and Shakespearean actor.
Blake Burgess, Auburn Football player and Shakespearean actor.

In Act 1 of Hamlet, Polonius gives a piece of advice to his son Laertes, who is about to get on a boat to Paris, "To thine own self be true. And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man."

Interestingly that quote exemplifies the path that one Auburn football player has chosen for himself.

During the season he is a 6' 2" 255 lb. hard nose football player pursuing his dream to be an Auburn Tiger. Yet in the off season he is a mild mannered theater / drama major pursuing his dream to be an actor.

Blake was an undersized All-State center for Vestavia Hills High School in 2008 with dreams of playing for the school his grandfather had played for in the early 60's.

The dream meant so much to Blake Burgess that he turned down several scholarship offers from smaller schools to walk on at Auburn University. Because of his size, he expected to play defensive line when he arrived on campus in the summer of 2009.

After a red shirt year he was moved to the offensive line in 2010 since the Tigers needed depth at the position. Blake worked hard and became Center Ryan Pugh's backup and played every game on the special teams.

Coach Jeff Grimes liked what he saw in Burgess and encouraged him to work hard with Coach Yoxall to add weight. So he put in extra time in the weight room and ate and ate and ate some more ... until he tilted the scales at 280lbs.

His hard work and determination paid off, when in 2011 he became one of eight walk-ons to be awarded a scholarship by Coach Gene Chizik.

He realized two dreams that spring. The first one came when he was named the starting center and the second was when he earned the part of King Claudius in the University production of Hamlet.

Being a theater major is not what one would normally think of when you think of a tough SEC offensive lineman. But Blake Burgess has to his "own self be true."

And it is a truth that he loves football. It's also a truth that acting is his passion. He says when his football playing days are over, that it is a truth that he will pursue acting as a career.

Unfortunately for Blake, it was also true that in 2011 highly recruited lineman Reese Dismukes beat him out for the starting job at center. So this spring, with a stable full of four and five star lineman on the team, Blake was moved yet again to a new position ... tight end.

After a couple of years having to fight to gain weight he found himself having to fight to lose weight for the position move. But fighting and working hard is not anything new for Blake.

After all when he arrived on The Plains, he had to fight to make the team, fight for playing time, fight to earn a scholarship, and fight for a starting position. He has worn the number 86 for special teams, the number 63 as a guard/center, and now he will be wearing number 48 as a Tight End.

Once again, everything is different. But Coach Taylor said he thinks the move will be good for Blake. "It's given him a position where he can really compete. Instead of being in a position where he's behind four guys, there's only two, so that's going to give him a chance."

A chance is all this guy needs because he is a man that, "canst not then be false." He is a man that must to his "own self be true," for he is a man that always shows his true self of hard work and determination.

"And it must follow, as the night the day" ... That no one can be deceived by what he gives - for he is a man that gives one hundred per cent.