FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — The night before Arkansas closed out fall camp with Saturday’s scrimmage, Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema took his team to the movies.
The Hogs saw a private showing of “Greater,” which tells the story of former Arkansas football player Brandon Burlsworth. The walk-on offensive lineman became an All-American as a senior in 1998 and later died tragically in a car accident just days after being selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL Draft.
Several coaches and players posted about the experience on Twitter with many calling the film an inspiration.
Our crew loved the private showing to new release #Greaterthemovie
— Bret Bielema (@BretBielema) August 20, 2016
“Our kids were just locked in, so respectful,” Bielema said. “I think it gave a greater appreciation to everybody in that room. It was pretty awesome. I would definitely say it’s a must-see. I mean, in Arkansas everybody will love it. But if you’re a college football player, a man or woman of faith, the values that kid had and shared, the environment he overcame and preserved was awesome.”
Bielema had tight ends coach Barry Lunney Jr. speak to the team before the movie. Lunney, a former Arkansas quarterback, had played with Burlsworth for two years and was later a graduate assistant during Burlsworth’s senior season.
“Barry did a tremendous job,” Bielema said. “Knocked it out of the park. He set the setting for our kids. It was very real, from his heart.”
Bielema, who was a former walk-on himself at Iowa, said he was already familiar with Burlsworth’s story and that the movie “touched his heart.” He called it “incredibly awesome” to have had one of his former players at Wisconsin, wide receiver Jared Abbrederis, win the 2013 Burlsworth Trophy — given annually to the top FBS player who began his career as a walk-on.
“Greater” will premiere Tuesday at Fayetteville’s Malco Razorback Cinema. The film will be released in more than 200 theaters three days later.
“Not to give away anything, but that moment when you’re getting towards the end of the movie and he’s in a car ride home that you know he’s never going to live through … I would say that you could hear a pin drop in that movie theatre last night,” Bielema said.