EATONVILLE — The whiteboard mounted to the wall adjacent to his desk distracts Siaha Burley.
For about 16 hours a day, the Orlando Predators offensive coordinator's focus is on the play diagrams, formations and notes in blue ink on that board or trying to implement those designs during practice at the old Wymore Tech High School.
Except on game days or when his mind wanders to Mesa, Ariz., where his daughters Sia Jonet (pronounced sEE-uh Zho-nay), 9, and N'lae (pronounced Na-lay), 5, live.
"For me to leave the house, where my daughters are, is a big step, and it would have to be a good situation for me," said Burley, a wide receiver at UCF in 1997 and '98. "I felt like Orlando was. It gave me a chance to come back to where I started, a chance to come full circle."
It has been a good fit so far. The Predators (3-1) are ranked second in the Arena Football League in scoring (57.3 points per game) entering their matchup against the Philadelphia Soul (0-3) at 7:30 Thursday night at UCF's CFE Arena.
After leading UCF in receiving in both seasons at the school, Burley, 36, went on to become one of the arena league's top receivers. He started his nine-year AFL career with two seasons in Orlando, but his most prolific season came with the Utah Blaze in 2007, when he set then-league records with 166 catches for 2,129 yards.
"I've sat down with him and watched his film," said Khalil Paden, Orlando's leading receiver. "It's a great thing that we have a coach that played receiver and who knows how to work receiver routes and understands the concepts from a receiver's point of view."
Before coming to Orlando, Burley coached the Arizona Rattlers' wide receivers for one season (2011) and was the Chicago Rush's offensive coordinator last year.
"I've always had a knack for teaching, and that's what coaching is,'' Burley said.
Said Preds coach Rob Keefe: "His credibility is there. His validation is there. I'm teaching him to be the next head coach with whatever team that may be."
Until then, Burley is content in Orlando, close to his alma mater.
Burley spent time with UCF's coaches in Arizona leading to the Fiesta Bowl, and he has been on campus to see the staff since joining the Preds.
He speaks regularly with UCF wide receivers coach Sean Beckton, who coached him in college.
"I've been around there once or twice, shaking hands with [UCF coach] George O'Leary," Burley said. "I would love to get on there with his staff at some point. I would love to coach in college football."
"UCF was a good steppingstone for me. It grew me, and I matured."
Burley is working with an entirely revamped receiving corps that includes first-year AFL players Paden, Greg Carr and Kendal Thompkins.
"I just sit in meetings and just try to be a sponge and absorb everything he says to the receivers, the offensive line, myself," Preds quarterback Jason Boltus said.
Said Keefe, a former AFL defensive back: "I got out there one time to show his [offense] a certain look, and he asked me not to. He got out there a couple of times to show them the routes that he wanted, and you could hear some 'oohs and aahs' from the players.
"I guarantee you we could suit him up if we had to right now."
If the Preds keep producing points, that shouldn't be necessary.Copyright © 2015, CT Now