'Butterflies' lead De'Morreal Burnam to Big Orange Country

De'Morreal Burnam had butterflies in his stomach on Saturday. Read more to learn why.

A star-studded group of recruits ascended upon Tennessee’s campus Saturday to learn about Big Orange County.

The morning started with the Volunteers not having a player committed in the 2017 class. The night ended with De’Morreal Burnam knowing Tennessee will be his next home.

The Scout three-star outside linebacker prospect gave coach Butch Jones the news in the fourth-year head man’s office Saturday night amidst the junior day event.

“They went crazy,” Burnam told InsideTennessee. “It was real exciting.

“It was just how the scenery was and how the coaching staff treated me. Last week, I went to FSU. That was pretty good, too, and the environment and stuff. But the way they treat me over here (at Tennessee) was way better. I love the coaching staff.

“I talked to coach (Tommy) Thigpen, the linebackers coach, linebackers assistant coach (Derek) Day, mostly everybody, and of course coach Jones, everybody.

“It’s a great feeling. I had butterflies when I was going up there but I knew I was making the right decision for myself.”

Along with time with the coaching staff, Burnam pointed to Neyland Stadium and the Peyton Manning Locker Room as what stuck out about the junior day.

The Salem (Ga.) High School junior chose the Big Orange over offers from the likes of Florida State, Louisville, North Carolina, South Florida and Wake Forest. He got the Tennessee offer on Feb. 26.

The three-star became familiar with the program on The Hill by way of former Tennessee safety and All-America Deon Grant, who intercepted 14 passes his final two years on Rocky Top before becoming a second-round NFL Draft pick of the Carolina Panthers in 2000.

Salem coach John Starr is close to Grant. Burnam has spoken to Grant previously and his next order of business after speaking with InsideTennessee was to tell Grant about his declaration.

“I look up to Deon Grant,” Burnam said. “Ever since then I’ve just been looking at the school and stuff. I’ve always been an SEC type of guy. So, (Tennessee) has always been a school that’s been on my list.”

The 6-foot-2, 212-pounder ranks by Scout as the No. 28 outside linebacker in the 2017 class, No. 13 in the South and No. 6 in the Peach State. Tennessee coaches see Burnam, who has ample experience dropping into space and covering skill players one-on-one, playing linebacker.

“I play outside linebacker,” Burnam said. “I play a little bit of everything in the secondary — corner, strong safety, free safety. I just want to improve on my footwork, speed and just reading the play. I think coach Thigpen is going to really help me with that.”

Burma resides in a small town east of Atlanta named Conyers, which is less than four hours from Knoxville. Instead of attempting to figure out how to pronounce his name, the future Volunteer makes it simple: “I go by Mo.”


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