Burlsworth graduated from Harrison High School in 1994, where he was an All-State selection, and was a recruited walk-on football player at the University of Arkansas, despite the fact that he had scholarship offers from some smaller universities. After he redshirted his first year (1994), Burlsworth transformed his pudgy 300 lbs into a svelte 260 lbs, and over the next two years, built himself back up to a muscular 300 lbs offensive guard. By his sophomore season in 1996, he had earned a scholarship and a starting position at right guard on the offensive line.
Before his junior season in 1997, he was selected to be one of the team captains. Burlsworth's efforts earned him 1st team All-SEC honors in 1997 and 1998, and he was selected for the 1998 College Football All-America Team. He was Arkansas' first All-American player since 1993, and their first player selected to a 1st team squad since 1989. He was also named to the All-SEC Academic Honor Roll every year from 1995–1998. Burlsworth played on two SEC Western Division championship Razorback football teams (1995, 1998).
He was buried on May 2, 1999, in Gass Cemetery in Omaha, Arkansas.
Today, through the "Burls Kids" program, the Burlsworth Foundation provides underprivileged youth a chance to attend Razorback and Colts football games. Since 2000, the Foundation has bought 30 tickets to each Arkansas Razorbacks home football game. The tickets are distributed through Razorback Clubs across the state. The children are a big part to the foundation. The children are given an official "Burls Kid" T-shirt and replica glasses similar to what Brandon wore on the field.
In 2001, the book Through the Eyes of a Champion: The Brandon Burlsworth Story written by Jeff Kinley was released. The book was praised for its authentic, inspirational portrayal of Brandon's story. The book contains a foreword by former University of Arkansas Athletic Director Frank Broyles, and it was the inspiration for a movie (see below). The book was re-released in August 2016 as a tie-in with the movie, renamed Greater: The Brandon Burlsworth Story.
In 2007, the "Eyes of a Champion" program was started. The Brandon Burlsworth Foundation, in partnership with Walmart/Sam's Optical Department and independent optometrists across Arkansas, provides eye care to thousands of pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade students. Primarily they come from working families that cannot afford extras like eye care and do not qualify for state funded programs. Applications must be submitted by school Nurses or counselors and are available in English, French, and Spanish.
In 2010, the Burlsworth Trophy was created and named in his honor. The award is given yearly to the most outstanding Division I FBS college football player who began his career as a walk-on.
Filming began on Monday, May 6, 2013, in Fayetteville, Little Rock and Farmington, Arkansas, with a six-week production shoot. Greater originally had a U.S. theatrical release date scheduled for January 2016 which was later moved to summer 2016 starring Neal McDonough, Leslie Easterbrook, Michael Parks, Nick Searcy, Quinton Aaron, M.C. Gainey, Fredric Lehne, Texas Battle, Wayne Duvall, and Christopher Severio as Brandon, as well as a cameo by author Jeff Kinley.
The official general release date of August 26, 2016, was announced on Tuesday, August 16, 2016, via the movie's web site and official Twitter account. North West Arkansas television station Fox 24 (KFTA) ran a story with details about an advance screening which was held on Tuesday, August 23, 2016, at Malco Razorback 16 theater in Fayetteville, Arkansas, with a Q & A session that followed.