Profile: Austin Burton
High School: Winter Garden (Fla.) West Orange
Recruiting: Burton flipped his commitment from Boston College to UCLA Monday. UCLA offered him on the day that he verbally committed to Boston College earlier in the summer, and it was thought that Bruin offer would ultimately make Burton flip. Burton spent some time in L.A. playing on a Southern-California-based 7-on-7 team, and he attended UCLA's camp in late June and worked out in front of UCLA quarterbacks coach Marques Tuiasosopo. UCLA offered Burton even when it looked good for its #1 target, Jack Sears, since Tuiasosopo decided to take two quarterbacks in the 2017 class.
The Scouting Report: Starting off with perhaps the most important aspect to being a quarterback, Burton is smart and he is eager to learn an offense in detail. He studies film and comes from a family that values education and work ethic. His father is the Sports Director for CBS affiliate WBZ-TV in Boston, and played quarterback at Northwestern. His grandfather, Ron Burton, played for the New England Patriots.
Burton stands tall in the pocket, does well with pre-snap reads and his release is quick. A lot of his throws in the spread offense at West Orange are timing based, pre-snap decisions in which he finds 1-on-1 coverage. He can get through progressions as well. He has good arm strength, albeit not elite, but it will get better as UCLA adjusts his mechanics.
One thing he does is pull his elbow into his body on occasion so his delivery is not over the top.
He has nice touch on his throws, and he spins the ball well with a flick of his wrist. At times, his fade routes seem to be thrown with little effort. His delivery is compact, which allows him to get rid of the ball more quickly to compensate for not having a cannon of an arm.
With a lot of his quick-decision passes, he does a good job of turning his hips and getting full-shoulder action into the throw. He is accurate in throwing catchable balls, but he could be a bit more precise. He is comfortable throwing the ball in the middle of the field.
Burton has the athleticism to avoid the rush and keep his eyes down the field, but he is not a quarterback who will put a lot of stress on the defense with his running ability. He needs to work on throwing on the run.
UCLA is looking for the quarterback to replace Josh Rosen in 2018. It has a couple of guys already on the roster, freshmen Matt Lynch and Devon Modster, but given the way quarterback depth and retention works now in college football -- with so many QBs transferring out if they don't win the spot -- it was pretty critical that UCLA bring in a guy in the 2017 class who could seriously compete for the post-Rosen starting spot. UCLA missed on its primary target, Jack Sears, and while that was developing, it was clear that Tuiasosopo decided to take two quarterbacks in 2017. Burton will have a year in the program before Rosen leaves (after his junior year almost assuredly), and compete with Lynch, Modster, the other 2017 recruit (or maybe a D-1 transfer?) and then a 2018 true freshman for that open starting spot. It's a pretty good theory: If you don't have a clear-cut heir apparent to the starting quarterback position, the next best thing is to load up with as many guys as possible, to increase the odds you find someone who can be the starter. With Burton, he has the tools to have a chance, but would probably be behind Modster in terms of talent and experience, behind Lynch for at least experience, and perhaps behind the second 2017 recruit or transfer in talent, and behind the 2018 recruit in talent. It's a good move to take Burton, because there's only upside. Being from across the country, the history of out-of-state quarterbacks is that, if they don't win the spot they are the most likely to transfer. If he wins the job, great. If he doesn't win it but stays, great -- he might develop into quality, playable depth. If he doesn't win it and transfers out, then you still have probably four other scholarship guys on the depth chart.
The Opening NJ Highlights: