Jermaine Burton's Breakout Night
The Georgia Bulldogs entered Saturday night with a lot of uncertainty on the offense. Quarterback JT Daniels was making his first start in 15 months after an ACL surgery. Wide receiver George Pickens had missed two straight starts, which called into question how well prepared he would be for the game. The running game had to evolve after Kendall Milton’s MCL sprain suffered against Florida.
Enter wide receiver Jermaine Burton.
Those that have paid close attention to the Bulldogs offense this year, in addition to the recruitment of Burton last year, saw this coming. At times this season, he has flashed signs of greatness, but on Saturday, he put it all together. The true freshman totaled eight catches for 197 yards, adding on two touchdowns. Burton came just eight yards shy of the all-time receiving record in a game for Georgia, held by Tavarres King. King had 205 yards in the 2012 Outback Bowl.
In many ways, the young Burton resembles a superstar receiver who also made his name in the SEC: Odell Beckham Jr. That's a pretty lofty comparison for an 18-year-old, but Burton lived up to it on Saturday. He exploded and took over the first half, much as Beckham does in the NFL. Burton blew by defenders at the second level, twice taking the top off the defense.
Defensive coordinators in the SEC are starting to get very nervous when facing this ensemble of Georgia wideouts. Nothing more need be said about Pickens, the national star who faces double coverage as soon as he gets off the bus. But Saturday night, Burton put out his statement: If you leave me in one-on-one coverage; good luck.
Burton’s day expands the offense in a big way moving forward. Pickens already keeps defensive coaches up late into the morning on his own. The offensive line, excluding Saturday, has been a consistent bright spot for the team. Running back Zamir White could be the best playmaker on the team, even with the stars around him, and when you Burton is thrown into the mix, it starts to get ugly.
Daniels should have a lot of fun moving forward with this group of receivers. It seems as if every week someone new is making a play, which adds another person to the list of nightmares for opponents.
Saturday was not a one-time thing for Burton. Scouts around the industry have been raving about him for years, and his talent verifies the talk. If anything, expect more of what we saw from Burton, who finally appears to have created a concrete breakout moment for himself.
Good luck to any secondary that has to face this group moving forward. Your tough job just got even harder.