SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- As Jeff Burris stepped to a microphone in the crowded press tent outside Notre Dame Stadium early last night, the full-time safety and sometime tailback tapped it gently.
"Do I sing?" he said jokingly.
If he did, he might have belted out one more rendition of the Notre Dame fight song. It would have been the finishing touch on a well-rounded performance for the senior from Rock Hill, S.C.
In his team's 31-24 victory over previously undefeated and top-ranked Florida State, Burris was both an offensive and defensive hero. He ran three times for 19 yards, twice scoring touchdowns. He broke up four passes, nearly getting an interception on all of them.
"I kept putting Vaseline on my gloves," Burris said, laughing.
Getting an interception was about the only thing Burris didn't do, and the one thing he thought he would do for the second-ranked Irish. Burris had told a friend in the school's athletic department that he had a dream Thursday night about getting an interception.
"I'm just glad we won," he said. "I'm not interested in any individual glory, because that's not what this is all about. If we hadn't won, I might have felt bad about not getting those interceptions."
Burris certainly felt pretty good about getting his fourth and fifth touchdowns of the season -- on a total of 15 rushing attempts. But the player Notre Dame coach Lou Holtz called "our best tailback" earlier this season isn't thinking about changing his role. Asked if he enjoyed the spotlight at tailback, Burris said, "I'm a defensive player."
Said Holtz: "Burris excelled. He did well in goal line and secondary. He's an outstanding tailback. But he spends at most three or four minutes on goal line per week."
Burris' importance to Notre Dame's success isn't overlooked, or underappreciated, by his teammates. Senior defensive back Jeff Covington, who did have an interception of Florida State quarterback Charlie Ward, said Burris might be the only one to underestimate his value.
"Jeff does it all," said Covington.
But does he sing?