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Calabasas wide receiver Jermaine Burton aims for his long journey to continue in college

Calabasas wide receiver Jermaine Burton aims for his long journey to continue in college
Calabasas wide receiver Jermaine Burton catches a pass before a game against Oaks Christian on Oct. 19, 2018. (Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

Jermaine Burton’s path to being one of the top receivers in the nation has been a winding trail.

The 6-foot-1, 193-pound wideout calls Calabasas High home after moving from Georgia before his junior year. He attended a school in Marietta before transferring from the Atlanta suburbs to the city at Hapeville Charter for his freshman football season. Burton spent his sophomore season at national powerhouse IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., then transferred back to Marietta during the spring last year. But before playing for Marietta, he moved out to California and enrolled at Calabasas.

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He was selected wide receiver MVP of the Opening Atlanta Regional last spring over seniors Jadon Haselwood and Dominick Blaylock, the No. 1 and No. 5 receivers in the 2019 class per 247Sports composite rankings. Burton’s performance earned him a coveted spot as one of the select few underclassmen to be invited to the Opening Finals, an event that brings the nation’s top high school football players together to compete against one another over the summer.

He received an invitation to this year’s finals in Frisco, Texas, with a stellar performance in the rain Sunday at the Opening Los Angeles Regional at Long Beach City College. Burton showed off his elite speed by running the 40-yard dash in 4.43 seconds despite the soggy conditions. He made defenders miss in an open-field drill and then ran crisp routes that helped him get open against the top defensive backs in the area.

That skill set has colleges vying for Burton’s services and his coast-to-coast journey has allowed schools from all over the nation to see him play. Burton, the No. 2 receiver in California behind Calabasas teammate Johnny Wilson, has received scholarship offers from 20 colleges. His most recent additions include a pair of “hometown” schools, Georgia Tech and UCLA, in the last two weeks.

Burton released a top five in December that included Miami, Louisiana State, Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee, but he recently took an unofficial visit to UCLA that opened his eyes to the school as a viable option.

“It definitely made a difference in my recruitment,” he said. “I say UCLA is right now in my top three.”

He was impressed by the Bruins’ strength and conditioning program and how they attack speed training. He’s also seen the way UCLA football has transitioned since Chip Kelly took over as coach. The academics also stood out.

Calabasas wide receiver Jermaine Burton runs after a catch during drills at the Opening Los Angeles Regional at Veteran's Memorial Stadium in Long Beach on Sunday.
Calabasas wide receiver Jermaine Burton runs after a catch during drills at the Opening Los Angeles Regional at Veteran's Memorial Stadium in Long Beach on Sunday. (Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)

“I want to go to a school that I can lean on for after life of football with academics and UCLA, they have everything I need,” Burton said. “But I’m still weighing out my options. I’m looking at a lot of other schools, so I’m just going to wait it out.”

Miami and LSU remain among his top schools. Burton has always been enamored with the Tigers’ physical style of play and the recent addition of former New Orleans Saints assistant Joe Brady as passing game coordinator also caught his eye.

Burton committed to Miami for five months during his sophomore school year before backing off that decision. He loves the Coral Gables campus and has good relationships with many of the coaches even after the Hurricanes swapped head coaches this offseason.

“It’s still all love from the coaches and I respect all of them,” Burton said. “They’re all great dudes and definitely play a big role.”

Burton is still working on a timeline for his decision. He is hoping to receive more interest from other schools, including USC. He wants to be cautious with his commitment this time. If his mind is made during the summer, Burton said he’d commit before his senior season. He otherwise plans to wait until January to announce his plans at the All-American game in San Antonio.

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