In what should have been a crystal clear message to the Utah Utes coaching staff–albeit one for which you would need Internet to understand–Utah junior cornerback Brandon Burton has decided to go pro.
He tweeted as much from his home on Monday, declaring that he has thrown his name into the NFL Draft.
Several reasons factored into Burton’s decision. Draft experts project the Utes’ lockdown cover corner may go as high as the first round.
The Utes also lose 18 players to graduation from a 10-3 team that went to the Las Vegas Bowl and lost, 26-3, to Boise State.
“Officially declared for the nfl draft today. To ute nation I love u guys and appreciate all the support through the years.” – From Brandon Burton’s Twitter account, Jan. 3, 2011
So with that tweet, Burton bid adieu to the University of Utah. It has to be somewhat bitter for Ute fans, who knew what Burton meant to the Ute defense and to the team as a whole.
He started his Ute career in 2007 as a red shirt, played limited minutes in the Utes’ Sugar Bowl season in ‘08 and really came on as a starter in 2009 and 2010.
He later gave the university a statement officially confirming his intentions.
“My experience at Utah has been great, but after talking to various people and sitting down with my family, I decided that now is the time to pursue a career in the NFL. I feel I am ready maturity-wise to make the move. I received nothing but love and support from my coaches and teammates at Utah and I’ll always be a Ute.” – Brandon Burton statement, Jan. 3, 2011
The team obviously looked forward–especially after Burton blocked a BYU field goal attempt to win the Holy War earlier this season–to him potentially becoming an All-American in Utah’s first season in the PAC-12.
Without its best cover corner, and arguably one of the best in college football, the Utes now have a huge hole to fill.
To be honest, it didn’t take long for Burton to decide what he was going to do. The Las Vegas Bowl ended about two weeks ago.
Burton reportedly checked with the NFL Draft Advisory Board over the holidays to see how he lined up, compared to other cornerbacks in his position and then made his decision.
He ends his Ute career with three interceptions and two blocked field goals. He’ll wrap up requirements to receive his economics degree as well.
“I’ll take online classes initially, and in the offseason, I’ll come back to Utah, enroll in classes and finish up.” – Burton statement, Jan. 3, 2011
Now what lies ahead for Burton is the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, the same meat market where ex-Ute linebacker Koa Misi and offensive lineman Zane Beadles watched their draft stock explode after they put up incredible numbers and times.
According to NFLDraftScout.com, Burton is the No. 6 cornerback who runs a 4.49 in the 40. Depending on how he does at the Combine will determine whether his stock goes up or down.
However, ESPN draft guru Mel Kiper Jr. has Burton ranked 5th among all draft-eligible corners and has called the junior a “player to watch.”
Chris Trapasso at Bleacher Report has Burton going No. 12 to the Tennessee Titans in his mock draft. It’s a selection that makes sense, if you think about the former Utes who have thrived with the team.
“Brandon played a big part in our defensive success the past two years. After evaluating his options, he and his family have decided it’s in his best interest to forego his senior season and enter the NFL draft. We appreciate all that Brandon did for our program during his time at Utah and we wish him well in all his future endeavors.” – Utah coach Kyle Whittingham statement, Jan. 3, 2011
Burton is valuable both in the secondary and on special teams, which makes him very attractive to just about any NFL team.
Ute Nation will have its eyes peeled for how Burton does, as the team has now lost its 19th player, counting the 18 who have graduated from the program.