With the announcement of former ECU baseball player Alec Burleson as the American Athletic Conference Male and Baseball Scholar-Athlete of the Year yesterday, a Pirate has now held that distinction for consecutive years.

In 2019, ECU left-handed pitcher Jake Agnos, who is now in the New York Yankees’ farm system, earned the same honor, making him the first Pirate ever to do so.

The honor comes with a $4,000 scholarship.

“It was cool, last year Agnos winning the award, and I’m able to follow in his footsteps a little bit,” Burleson told Patrick Johnson on 94.3 The Game on Wednesday. “It’s definitely awesome.”

Burleson’s recognition only further highlights the work Cliff Godwin and his staff have been putting in to ensure ECU baseball succeeds, not only on the field, but in the classroom as well. During the spring semester alone, the program posted a 3.61 team GPA, the highest in program history to push its streak of consecutive years with a 3.41 cumulative GPA to three.

“That comes before all the baseball — academics come before baseball,” Burleson said. “Anytime in the off-season, in-season, through the COVID stuff, anything, academics were No. 1. He (Godwin) pushes that and he makes sure we have all the available tools and resources to allow us to have the high GPAs that we have and be able to have honors that we do throughout the baseball team. It’s definitely a point of emphasis, and as long as coach Godwin is here, it will always be a point of emphasis.”

Just announced on Thursday, all of the 36 student-athletes in Godwin’s program during the 2020 season were part of the more than 300 ECU representatives on the AAC All-Academic Team. ECU finished second in the conference with 303 student-athletes who racked up at least a 3.00 GPA for the preceding academic year and had completed at least two consecutive semesters at a member institution.

For Burleson, capturing a 3.00 GPA was easy, as the business management major currently owns a 3.95 mark with four classes left until graduation.

“I didn’t get any ‘B’s’, I got a couple ‘A-’s’ that pulled me down a little bit,” Burleson said. “I have four classes left to graduate and I’m hoping to be able to tell my kids one day that I did not get a ‘B’ in college, so that’s what I’m shooting for.”

On the field, Burleson parlayed his status as one of the most decorated players in ECU baseball history into being a second round selection by the St. Louis Cardinals in the 2020 MLB Draft. With the ink dry on his $700,000 signing bonus, however, Burleson has been unable to suit up for his new team, as the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the Minor League season.

Nevertheless, Burleson is staying ready and in playing shape with his former ECU teammate and now Chicago Cub farmhand Jake Washer.

“Right now, pretty much, I’m doing the same thing I’ve been doing the past three or four months, however long it’s been,” Burleson said. “Just moved into an apartment with Jake Washer, so he’s my new roommate. We’re kind of working out together, hitting together. We’ve got our routine that we do. Other than that, the only thing that’s going to change is whenever classes start I’ll have a little bit of school work to do. Other than that, not really doing anything. Just trying to stay in shape and continue to act like I may get a call tomorrow or something to go play. I’m just staying prepared and just waiting.”

While Burleson waits for his shot in professional baseball, a trio of Pirates will also be enjoying some extra scholarship money after winning scholar-athlete awards for their respective sports.

Dorthea Forbrigd (women’s golf), Megan Pallozzi (lacrosse) and Patrick Stephenson (men’s golf) all took home honors for ECU and their programs, a distinction that comes with a $2,000 scholarship from the AAC.

Listen to Patrick Johnson’s full interview with Alec Burleson that first aired on 94.3 The Game on Wednesday below, beginning around the 20-minute mark:

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