Jermaine Burton got his first offer in February of his freshman year.
That’s big for any player at any program. But that is also noteworthy for a proud Hapeville Charter program that seems to regularly pump out elite talent.
“You’re talking about a kid with all the physical attributes that if you were to have the NFL draft tomorrow, then he looks like some of the guys that are being drafted right now,” Hapeville Charter coach Winston Gordon said. “That’s why he is already more coveted this early than any player we have had here at Hapeville Charter.”
It also seems like February was so long ago. Burton’s first offer came from Florida. That will be significant to track going forward.
The Gators were his “dream school” growing up. He said that day ranks as currently the coolest of his young life.
“It meant a lot to me that my dream school was the first to offer me,” Burton said. “I will keep that in mind throughout my recruiting process.”
The 6-foot, 181-pound receiver has stacked up 15 more scholarship opportunities on top of that first one. Burton has even tallied offers from Louisville, Oregon and Southern Cal over the last week.
Georgia was the third school to offer Burton. Alabama also has offered.
“It was just really surprising,” Burton said. “When I think of Alabama, I really think of a lot of football tradition and good football. That is a really big school. Really well known in the SEC. Everyone knows Alabama.”
The Bulldogs definitely will have a shot. Burton even wore a UGA zip-up on the day we spoke.
But he admitted that it initially belonged to his teammate, Georgia CB commit Chris Smith II.
“I do like Georgia a lot,” Burton said. “Their receivers coach [James Coley] showed me nothing but love when I first met him.”
Coley offered him at G-Day.
“He just looked at my mom and told her I had the offer,” Burton said. “Her jaw just dropped. She was just so really happy for me.”
Burton said he knows a lot about Florida and Georgia.
“I will have to learn about all of these and really take a good look at all of them,” he said.
What to like about Jermaine Burton
Burton had an impressive interview with DawgNation. Even for a rising senior. So that meant it was a really good chat for a soon-to-be sophomore.
Then, he politely asked if he could sit in on Smith’s interview session. Smith, the rising senior, is a very gifted communicator. He will impress his future hiring manager when he enters the corporate world.
“I need to watch Chris,” said Burton, who aims to major in mechanical engineering. “So I can get better at this interview stuff. I don’t think I’m that good at it yet.”
Football, he says, is his passion.
“I do all of this for my mom and my sister,” Burton said. “Just my whole family. I do all of this for them. When I’m tired and maybe I feel like letting up just a bit, I reach down and think of my mom and my sister and find what I need to just keep working hard.”
Can Jermaine Burton play?
He’s already got a nickname at Hapeville. And it is a good one.
They call him “Lemonade.”
“We call him that because he’s tart and tough to deal with at first but in the end, he comes across sweet,” Hapeville Charter assistant Kevin Pope said. “He may be a little sour like those lemons at first just because he’s young but when you get him on the field and see him produce that will be sweet.”
Burton has gotten the chance to match up with William Poole III, a Georgia signee, and Smith already at Hapeville. Hapevile’s program prides itself on good-on-good competition.
“I like going against them,” Burton said. “I know I’m going to take my lumps now. But I know it will make me that much better.”
What happened when he was shadowed by Smith? He said he gets open two times out of every five. Smith said it might be even more than that.
Remember what Gordon said about having all the tools? Smith is one of the top corners in the South for this cycle.
Burton is already that good. What other schools does he like?
“I do like Ohio State and Florida State,” Burton said. “I like Tennessee and Texas and I like Clemson and LSU. I’d love to have the chance to play at all those schools one day, too.”
His strongest tool at this point looks like running routes. But he’s aware he needs to put in a lot more work so he can master tracking the ball in the air.
He’s sharpening that aspect with private training with former Georgia receiver Terrence Edwards.
“He works a lot with me on ball drills and feet drills,” he said. “Coach Edwards is a really good coach who has helped me quite a lot already.”
Why UGA recruits Hapeville Charter so well
UGA already has had success with Poole and Smith at Hapeville, and there is also clear momentum with Kingsley Enagbare and a great start with Burton.
How does UGA do so well with the Hornets? Well, it is not the reason one might think.
Poole largely stayed out of Smith’s process. Smith is basically applying that same stance with Enagbare and Burton.
Gordon also has deep connections throughout college football. It is not like Hapeville is a new UGA-only pipeline.
The reason is the same reason UGA is doing so well right now in East Point, Hapeville, Tri-Cities and Union City. It is basically the city of Atlanta.
Jennings coached in the area. He’s also shown a very giving and philanthropic side and earned a right to be a strong community voice.
Gordon believes in every bit of that last statement. Jennings even grew up with some of the parents and families that are now producing the best players in the city.
“When you think Georgia football, the first thing I think of is Jonas Jennings,” Gordon said. “Jonas is that guy who is able to make these Atlanta kids feel comfortable and is just a great all-around guy. He has been to the next level so he can come back to College Park and Hapeville and this community and folks will really believe he is a godsend and a blessing to all these kids.”
The players from his old stomping grounds simply trust him.
“He’s a great friend and I don’t mind when my kids tell me they want to go to Georgia,” Gordon said. “Because I know they are in great hands with Kirby [Smart] and Mel [Tucker] and all of those guys. They do a great job and I just think that Jonas is the glue. … He’s always been giving back to this community.”