University of Arkansas defensive coordinator Reggie Herring saw something in Morriltons Freddy Burton - a recent Razorback commit - that he liked during this past Julys Seniors Camp in Fayetteville.
Herring just thought he would like the prospect a little bit more at outside linebacker than his high school spot of safety and promised Burton (6-3, 185, 4.49) that he would likely be offering the young man after seeing him play the position.
All it took turned out to be a highlight tape that showed Burton, one of 10 UA commits, playing far more like a backer than than a traditional safety.
Coach Herring said that he saw all he needed to see and they were ready to go ahead and offer me, Burton said. They called after my practice on Friday and said we have decided we want to go ahead and offer and get this taken care of.
I was very excited about that, Burton added. I went home and talked it over with my parents and just wanted to go ahead and commit and get it out of the way before my senior season started.
Burton, who had 89 tackles and an interception last season while also catching passes for over 230 yards, has the characteristics that Herring looks for in a linebacker - height, speed, instincts and aggressiveness.
I think Ive got all those things, Burton said. I love to hit and I have done a good job these last couple of years at getting to the ball and making something happen when I do.
Burton reminds some of former Little Rock Central standout and current Razorback linebacker Freddie Fairchild while former UA and current NFL linebacker Caleb Miller is another who played safety in high school but was an outside linebacker in college.
I play close to the line and even on the line a lot in high school anyway, Burton said. I dont think it is going to be a big transition at all for me.
Fairchild, the states defensive player of the year back during the 2003 season, played at just under 180 pounds in high school, but now sports 220 pounds on his frame.
Miller had a similar transformation by the time he got on the field after redshirting a year.
Im hoping I can get up to about 220 also by the time I get to college, Burton said. I hadnt really thought much at all about linebacker, but listening to Coach Herring talk and what he looks for in a linebacker, he thinks I have the chance to be a very good one on this next level.
Burton had been to camps at Ole Miss, Oklahoma State and Georgia Tech with all those schools showing interest and talking about offering during the season.
But I have always wanted to be a Razorback and there was no reason to wait, Burton said. Im excited about the future. I think Arkansas is going to win a lot of games in the future and I am happy I am going to have a chance to help them do that.
Burton - who has a 3.0 grade point average and has already posted a 19 on his ACT - and Morrilton will travel to Fayetteville to scrimmage on August 21 before opening its season Sept. 1 at Russellville.
The Devil Dogs advanced all way to the Class AAAA state championship game last season before falling 35-32 to Greenwood, who moves up to Class 5A with Morrilton this season.
I think we have a chance to get there again because we have about six starters coming back on offense and defense and a lot of good new guys, Burton said. Now I can just concentrate on that.
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