The top-ranked football player in the state is no stranger to the coaches and players at the University of Kentucky.
Frederick Douglass High School offensive lineman Jager Burton is the top recruit in the Commonwealth, ranked by Rivals as the No. 149 player overall in the 2021 recruiting class. Before he was an offensive lineman, he was a defensive lineman attending a summer camp at UK.
“I was playing D-line and 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 on the KSR Football Podcast.
The following fall Burton moved to the offensive side of the line of scrimmage and sky-rocketed up the rankings. As other schools began to speak to Burton, he remained close with Schlarman.
“I’ve known him way before I had a scholarship to anywhere. My relationship with him is more personal than most coaches I have a relationship with. It feels like we’re as close to family as we can get. We talk all the time and it’s not always even about football.”
Following the completion of his first year on the offensive line at Frederick Douglass, Kentucky hosted Burton for an unofficial visit. It’s a day he will never forget.
“I was not expecting it at all. I think we had just lost in the playoffs. It was the last home game of the season for Kentucky the year Josh Allen was there. I just came because I wanted to watch the game and see everyone. They were showing me a lot more attention than they normally did whenever I was there, and then they were like, ‘Coach Stoops wants to talk to you.’ I was like what is going on right now?”
Mark Stoops extended Burton a scholarship offer on that visit in 2018, his first.
“It was shocking. My parents weren’t even with me, I just had one of my friends, then Kentucky did it. I cried. It was like a dream come true. I’m forever grateful for them being the first school to take a chance on me.”
Now Burton has offers from every school in the country that matters in college football. He’s narrowed his finalists to seven and has selected which schools he will officially visit: Alabama, Kentucky, Clemson, Ohio State and Oregon. He hopes to make a decision before his birthday on August 24.
Along with Schlarman, Burton is being recruited to UK by Vince Marrow. Many players have been asked, ‘What makes Marrow such a great recruiter?’ Burton provided previously unheard perspective.
“I think he just knows how to relate to kids from every background. His son went through the recruiting process and ended up going to Alabama. He talks a lot about that and he’s kind of open about the mistakes he thinks his son made and trying to keep us away from them.” Burton added: “I think it kind of feels like more of a friend than a recruiter.”
Marrow’s decision to stay in the Bluegrass resonated with Burton, a player that’s being asked to stay in the Bluegrass to play college football.
“His big thing that he always preaches to me, Dekel (Crowdus, a Douglass wide receiver), all those guys that are from Lexington — Lavell (Wright from North Hardin) and all them — is kind of just, stay home. If someone preaches that to you for however long and then he leaves. It’s like, if he’s going to leave home — I think it is important for a lot of kids. I don’t think he’s going anywhere now.”
You can hear more about Burton’s recruiting experience by listening to this week’s edition of the KSR Football Podcast.