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‘We had a little bond:’ Burgess, Fitzgerald emerging in IU’s secondary

The last time 2 Live Crew released an original studio album was April 1998.

But more than 20 years after “The Real One” hit the radio waves, the1990’s hip-hop group has found a new pair to boast their name.

Juwan Burgess pregame vs. Penn State. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

“[Bryant Fitzgerald] was a cool guy when we first met each other,” redshirt safety Juwan Burgess said. “And we just had a little spark. We had a little bond.”

Burgess and Fitzgerald admittedly haven’t listened to much of Luther Campbell, Chris Wong Won and Yuri Vielot’s music. In fact the nickname, while it coincides with 2 Live’s, comes more from football than it does music.

Safeties coach Kasey Teegardin said the name arose in spring practices. Rotating starters and backups, Teegardin referred to his second string group as “the twos.” When called upon, he’d yell “Twos you’re live.” That pairing was Fitzgerald and Burgess.

“I challenged them and started calling them a crew,” Teegardin said. “That’s kind of how it evolved to it, 2 Live Crew.”

In retrospect, the name correlates to Fitzgerald, Burgess and college football as a whole. Like the hip-hoppers they’ve been named after, Burgess and Fitzgerald are both Florida natives, though Fitzgerald eventually moved from Miami to Avon, Indiana.

As for the rappers, 2 Live Crew based their operations in Miami. Further, Campbell was a fixture within the University of Miami football program during the 1980s and 90s before he was embroiled in a pay-for-play controversy.

As for Bloomington’s version of the hip-hop icons, Fitzgerald and Burgess have brought a Sunshine State swagger and toughness to the Indiana gridiron in 2018.

After a paperwork issue within the IU compliance office forced Fitzgerald to redshirt last season, he’s been a stalwart in the defensive secondary.

“Just got to stay confident in yourself,” Fitzgerald said of how he kept his head during the unforeseen redshirt year. “Be ready whenever your time is.”

Last Saturday against Penn State, the Nittany Lions lined up for a third-and-long. Taking the ball, do-it-all running back Miles Sanders shot the gap, having just Fitzgerald to beat for the first down.

Rearing back and soaring like a missile through the open field, Fitzgerald annihilated Sanders, sending him flipping over himself in midair suspended above the Memorial Stadium turf.

Fitzgerald also flashed the athleticism that made him the No. 4 ranked recruit in Indiana as a prospect against Penn State. When redshirt sophomore husky Marcelino Ball forced a tipped ball, Fitzgerald stood alone. Rearing back he snatched a one-handed interception with his right hand.

“It was one of those opportunities I could go for the two-hand but it’s not as appealing so I had to go for the one-hand to boost it up,” Fitzgerald joked. “I was trying to make a college football pump-up video.”

Alongside Fitzgerald, Burgess has been equally instrumental in the Indiana defensive backfield. In the 33-28 loss to Penn State, the 6-foot-1, 191-pound notched back-to-back five tackle games against Ohio State and Iowa.

It’s worth noting that the Indiana 2-Live Crew’s collaboration is not limited to the gridiron. With limited time off and nearly 1000 miles between Bloomington and his family’s home in Tampa, Burgess has spent time at the Fitzgerald residence in the Indianapolis suburbs.

“We just treat each other like brothers,” Burgess said.

With Indiana nearing the closing stretch, Burgess and Fitzgerald are crucial for playmaking in the secondary.

Friday night the 2 Live Crew hit the road for their next gig – an 8 p.m. showdown with a middling Minnesota team in Minneapolis. And though these youngsters don’t even have a full season of division one football under their belts, stage fright isn’t mildly an issue.

“We may be young, but we’ve got all the confidence in the world,” Burgess said. “Just who we’re with, who we’re around that’s why we’re so confident.”

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