Vernon Burke attended North High School from 1955 to 1959. In 1958, this “Star” was named to both the All-League football and basketball teams, was MVP of the basketball team, and was the school’s leading scorer. He was the MVP of the basketball team and the schools leading scorer that year. Burke continued his athletic excellence during his senior year being named to the All-League and All-Valley football teams in 1959. After this impressive senior campaign, Burke was selected to play in the Senior Bowl. Burke moved immediately into his senior basketball season where he was the SYL’s leading scorer and once again named to the All-League basketball team. Burke was honored with the Jim Tyack Award, as the best athlete in Kern County in 1959.
Upon graduation, Burke continued his football career at Bakersfield College. During his freshman year, Burke played end for the Renegades, a team that went on to win the National Championship and Junior Rose Bowl. Burke was named second team All-American and Junior Rose Bowl MVP. During his sophomore year, Burke was named first team All-American and played in the All-American Football game.
Burke quickly caught the eye of Oregon State football coach Tommy Prothro. Despite playing only two seasons at OSU Burke broke every important passing record at Oregon State including most catches in a career (117), most yards in a career, (1,799), most catches in a season (69) and most touchdowns in a season (10). He led the team in both receiving and scoring in 1962 and 1963. Burke broke the NCAA record in both pass receptions (69) and pass yardage (1007) in 1962. Oregon State won the Liberty Bowl that year. He was named the Oregon State Rookie of the Year and was a second team All-American. He was drafted by the San Francisco 49’ers in the 5th round and by the Oakland Raiders in the 15th round of the NFL draft after the 1962 season.
Burke went on to play his senior season at OSU where he was named the team MVP. Burke was a consensus All-American selection and was named to both the Kodak and Look Magazine All-American teams. Burke was honored with the Voit Memorial Award for the most outstanding senior football player on the west coast and the Pop Warner Award for the most outstanding player on the west coast. He was a Hula Bowl recipient and played in the East-West Shrine game where he was named MVP.
After leaving Oregon State, Burke play four seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49’ers, Atlanta Falcons and New Orleans Saints until a knee injury ended his career.
Burke went on to become a successful real estate developer and general contractor in seven states.
Burke has since been inducted into the 1978 Bob Elias Hall of Fame, 1982 Oregon Sports Hall of Fame, 1991 Oregon State University Hall of Fame, 2001 Bakersfield College Football Hall of Fame, 2012 Oregon Sports Hall of Fame (Oregon State Liberty Bowl Team) and 2012 Oregon State University Hall of Fame (Oregon State Liberty Bowl Team).