After sitting atop Kentucky’s 2021 recruiting big board for years, the Cats have successfully secured a commitment from hometown star, Jager Burton. How big of a deal is it for the big guy to stay home? Let me try to explain.
Beating the Big Dogs
I don’t care where the kid is from, anytime you can beat out Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State and Oregon for a recruit, you’re doing something right.
Lexington has become a hot bed of talent for elite offensive linemen. A trend that Landon Young began, the other top 100 prospects from Lexington that followed Young opted to go elsewhere: Jedrick Wills chose Alabama and Burton’s former Frederick Douglass teammate, Walker Parks, signed with Clemson. Even with the biggest players in college football involved, Vince Marrow and Co. were able to convince Jager to play for his home state school.
A Plug-and-Play Talent
The Big Blue Wall has developed a reputation for mauling opponents in the run game. Often times, the players that become household names are developed over time before being unleashed on SEC opponents. Landon Young and Darian Kinnard have been exceptions to that norm, forced into action right away as true freshmen after underclassmen suffered injuries.
Kentucky’s offensive line boasts four preseason All-SEC selections in 2020, all of which are excepted to take their talents to the NFL in the spring. Burton is talented enough to fill the void right away. Even if he isn’t a day one starter, the All-American will find a way into the rotation in the fall of 2021 after he enrolls in the spring.
John Schlarman is a Soothsayer
Before Burton was one of the most highly-touted players in America, he was a kid at Kentucky football camp playing defensive line. John Schlarman felt the need to intervene.
“Coach (John) Schlarman pulled me aside. He was like, ‘You’re a pretty athletic defensive lineman, but if you move to offensive line you’ll be extremely athletic,’” Burton said earlier this year on the KSR Football Podcast.
Burton took Schlarman’s advice and moved to offensive line for his sophomore season at Frederick Douglass. Once his season ended, he unofficially visited campus and received an offer from UK, his first scholarship offer. Schlarman’s eye for talent will pay dividends for years to come.
Kentucky Dominates In-State Recruiting
The commitment from the state’s top-ranked player now gives the Wildcats’ 2021 recruiting class five of the top eight players in the state. Vince Marrow could increase that number to six if he can successfully secure a commitment from Bowling Green tight end Jordan Dingle.
Since Marrow made Kentucky part of his recruiting territory, he’s picked up commitment from 15 players in three recruiting cycles, with only one player outside of the top ten. In that same timeframe UofL has only one top ten commitment from the Commonwealth. You can’t keep every top-ranked player home. Some just feel the need to leave the state. For the rest, the Big Dog has made sure that UK is the place to be.
An Anchor in a Bizarre Recruiting Cycle
The 2021 recruiting class is unlike any other, thanks to COVID-19. The pandemic ceased all in-person recruiting and eliminated Mark Stoops’ favorite recruiting weapon, the official visit. Without official visits, recruiting has become more regionalized. It’s not all necessarily a negative.
Burton always appeared to be a Kentucky lean, yet his decision ultimately seemed predicated on how he felt at official visits to his five finalists — Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Oregon and UK. By eliminating official visits to other schools, Kentucky had the inherent advantage.
The addition of Burton moves UK up to No. 39 in 247 Sports’ team rankings. The 16th commitment in the class, Burton leads the way alongside his talented Frederick Douglass High School teammate, wide receiver Dekel Crowdus.
Kentucky Football 2021 Recruiting Class
|Jager Burton||OG||Lexington, KY||6-4||270||4-star, #170, #8 OG||Marrow|
|Dekel Crowdus||WR||Lexington, KY||5-10||170||4-star, #44 WR||Marrow|
|Christian Lewis||WR||Pleasant Grove, AL||6-3||185||3-star, #69 WR||Sumrall|
|La'Vell Wright||RB||Radcliff, KY||5-11||205||3-star, #8 APB||Marrow|
|Jordan Lovett||DB||Radcliff, KY||6-2||195||3-star, #5 KY||Marrow|
|Kaiya Sheron||QB||Somerset, KY||6-3||200||3-star, #8 KY||Hinshaw|
|Armond Scott||WR||Euclid, OH||6-3`||205||3-star||Marrow|
|Chauncey Magwood||WR||Leesburg, GA||6-0||176||3-star, #65 WR||Sumrall|
|David Wohlabaugh||DB||Wadsworth, OH||6-5||277||3-star, #54 OT||Marrow|
|Paul Rodriguez||OL||Mason, OH||6-5||310||3-star, #32 OH||Marrow|
|Martez Thrower||ILB||Rochelle, GA||6-2||215||3-star, #41 OLB||Sumrall|
|Kahlil Saunders||DL||Huntsville, AL||6-5||260||3-star||Sumrall|
|Adrian Huey||CB||Nashville, TN||5-10.5||160||3-star, #69 CB||Clinkscale|
|Maxwell Hairston||CB||West Bloomfield, MI||6-1||160||3-star||Clinkscale|
|Joko Willis||LB (JUCO)||Lagrange, GA||6-3||215||3-star, #51 LB (HS)||Sumrall|
|Wilson Berry||Punter||Melbourne, Australia||2-star||Duffy|