Lobo linebacker Burton commits to Lumberjacks
By Rick Kretzschmar firstname.lastname@example.org
Dec. 10, 2011 at 11 p.m.
Dozens of big-time college football programs have shown interest in Jordan Burton, but none of them have offered the Longview linebacker a scholarship yet. An East Texas college has made him an offer. Because of this, it's where Burton has committed to play, at least for now.
Burton has verbally committed to Stephen F. Austin. Burton said he made the decision this week, after pondering over it for months. Burton made an official visit to SFA last spring as part of a group that were juniors in high school at the time, as well as an unofficial trip to Nacogdoches when SFA's football team played Northern Iowa on Sept. 10.
SFA, a NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) program, gets the commitment ahead of at least 25 Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) programs. Burton said he made official visits to five FBS programs - Arkansas, Texas A&M, TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma - and added that circumstances could change his mind in the future. Burton also picked SFA over two other Southland Conference schools: McNeese State and Lamar.
Verbal commitments are non-binding. The first day Burton can sign a national letter of intent is Feb. 1. Burton said he plans on making another official visit to SFA on Jan. 20.
"Bigger schools have a comeback list. If they don't get the No. 1 recruit they were looking for they could come back for the second or third player on their list," Burton said. "If a bigger-name school calls, I might consider it. I'm about 65 percent sure I will stick to my commitment to SFA."
Burton has shown durability with successful seasons over the past two years in two different positions.
Burton had 106 tackles, three for losses, while breaking up four passes at linebacker this past season for an 11-2 Longview squad that won the District 11-5A title and advanced to the Class 5A Division II Region II semifinals. Burton was a first-team selection on the 2011 All-District 11-5A team.
Playing safety in 2010, Burton made 110 tackles had an interception and forced two fumbles as the Lobos were 10-5, won a share of the 11-5A title and advanced to the Class 5A Division II state semifinals. Burton was a second-team selection on the News-Journal's 2010 All-East Texas Team. Burton also made 28 tackles in 2009, when he helped the Lobos to a Class 4A Division I state runner-up finish.
Burton was also a standout punt returner for the Lobos this past season, averaging 12.0 yards on 17 returns this season with one touchdown. Burton said he hopes to continue to return punts for SFA, while returning to his old playing position.
"One reason I chose SFA is I have a better chance to start there. I can play safety and return punts," Burton said. "I want to be able to work all over the field and run sideline to sideline."
Longview head coach John King said if Burton sticks with his commitment, SFA got a steal in recruiting. King said Burton's physique - 6-3 and weighing 200 pounds - could be a reason for the indecision on the part of FBS schools. King said Burton was the most versatile defender on his squad this past season.
"Jordan kind of fell into the land of a tweener," King said. "I think they weren't sure whether to play him at linebacker or safety."
SFA was 6-5 in 2011, 5-2 in the Southland Conference, ending with a 33-0 win over arch rival Northwestern State on Nov. 19. King said it could be important for Burton to put on some weight in order to be successful at the collegiate level.
Burton said success in college football will come down to work, not whether he plays for a big-name program or not. Burton pointed out that many successful NFL players did not play for FBS programs.
"To be honest, you can go anywhere. This is a chance to play at the next level," Burton said. "Hard work beats talent if talent doesn't work hard."