San Antonio native, Wagner graduate suiting up on Super Bowl Sunday

This weekend, Spencer Burford will become the first UTSA football alumnus to play on the NFL’s biggest stage.

SAN ANTONIO — Spencer Burford won’t be the first former UTSA Roadrunner to play on Super Bowl Sunday—that honor belongs to Teddy Williams, who suited up for the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl L in 2015 after running track in San Antonio.  

But this weekend Burford will become the first product of the UTSA football program to step foot into one of the brightest spotlights in sports. 

Burford was drafted in 2022 by the San Francisco 49ers. For his mother Barretta, who still teaches at Wagner High School, where Spencer graduated in 2018, the biggest weekend in U.S. sports can’t get here soon enough. 

“I am super excited,” she exclaimed, smiling. 

But did anyone beat her to a spot on Burford’s ticket request list?

“I am the first one,” she said. “I told him, ‘You know, I get it, you only get a certain number of tickets. But I am going to the Super Bowl.'” 

When we interviewed Barretta at Wagner, she was dressed from head to toe in 49ers garb. And she was more than happy to share how proud she is of her professional football son. 

In fact, if you glanced at her on this day, you could’ve sworn we interviewed her the day of the big game itself.

“You know I had to come in and represent the NFC Championship,” she said. “I have watch him work and put in the work. 

“He told me since he was 4 years old: ‘Mom, I’m gonna someday play in the NFL.’ When they are little you kind of patronize them and say, ‘Of course you can do that. You can do whatever you want.’ Over the years that was his constant. ‘OK, if that’s what you want, let’s go get it. Let’s put in the work.'”

“He always had great feet, and he also played basketball,” said Charlie Bruce, who coached Burford at Wagner before he transitioned to take the reins at Brandeis. “Even when we were doing our drills, watching his footwork for a big guy, it was amazing.” 

Roadrunners Head coach Jeff Traylor said Burford’s natural ability was never in doubt. 

“It was just a matter of ‘between his ears’ and being a pro,” he said. “When Spencer decided that, there was no doubt in my mind that he could play as long as he wants to play.” 

Each of his past coaches, whether at Wagner or at UTSA, know what San Antonio means to the big guy who wears number 74 for San Francisco. Before he was all about the 49ers, his life was all about the Alamo City. 

And his heart will always be with the 210. 

“That is super cool for him,” said Barretta of Burford’s success. “He always gives credit to where he came from. I told him to never forget where you come from.” 

Coach Bruce admitted this weekend is very cool for him. 

“This is one of those bucket list items for me,” he added. “Check, ya know.”

Traylor told us this weekend for Burford reflects one of the great things about coming up through UTSA right now. 

“You can be the first in lots of things,” he said. “It is even more cool that he’s from Wagner; a San Antonio boy that stayed home and played at UTSA.”

Barretta almost didn’t know what to say when we asked her what it’s going to be like seeing her baby boy in the Super Bowl on Sunday. 

But she did have an answer. 

‘”Let’s just hope I don’t pass out,” she said, once again laughing. 

Traylor said players who come through the program are almost like his own kids; he wants them to do so well. 

“When he’s out there I’m nervous, because with offensive line play they only call your name out when you do something bad,” he said. “So as long as they don’t call his name out, I’ll be happy for him.”

“He’s still a gentle giant,” Barretta added. “He’s remained a humble spirit within him. I’m just proud of him as a person overall.”

Super Bowl XLIII between the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs kicks off at 5:30 p.m. Sunday on KENS 5. 


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