Opinion: Jermaine Burton Could Become Biletnikoff Candidate

Heading into his second season with the Bulldogs, wide receiver Jermaine Burton is looking to put his name among college football's best.

Wide receiver Jermaine Burton flashed signs of greatness last season during his freshman campaign. He consistently got open and was one of the most explosive players on the Bulldogs offense.

Despite all the hype and anticipation surrounding wide receiver George Pickens, next year it is possible that Burton could take a massive leap and cement himself as a candidate for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the best receiver at year's end. 

While it may seem bold now, let's add historical context to the situation.

Burton best compares to receivers that entered college as well-developed route-runners like Odell Beckham Jr., Davante Adams and Ja'Marr Chase. All of these players were at one point in their college careers considered candidates for the award.

For the most part, they also took massive jumps in order to put their names into the conversation. Here's how their first seasons of college football stack up compared to when their Biletnikoff candidacies began in Year 2: 

  • Odell Beckham Jr.: 43 catches, 713 yards, 2 touchdowns in 2012.
    •  59 catches for 1,152 yards, 8 touchdowns in 2013.
  • Davante Adams: 102 catches, 1,312 yards, 14 touchdowns in 2012. 
    • 131 catches, 1,718 yards, 24 touchdowns in 2013.
  • Ja’Marr Chase: 23 catches, 313 yards, 3 touchdowns in 2018. 
    • 84 catches, 1,780 yards, 20 touchdowns in 2019.

In 2020, Burton had 27 catches for 404 yards and three touchdowns, but he showed the world just how great he can be against Mississippi State where he had eight catches for 197 yards and two touchdowns. 

In 2021, we are expecting many more performances like that one. 

Adams was a superstar from the moment he started playing at Fresno State. He is the outlier on this list, although he did take a jump to become one of the best receivers in all of college football in his second year of action. Adams is the best comparison for Burton and took a jump nonetheless, even though his starting point was better.

Chase and Beckham both had similar starting points to Burton and both took leaps the following season. Beckham nearly doubled his production while Chase performed astronomically better.

Everyone on this list had a better surrounding offense heading into their "jump year," as will Burton. All, with the exception of Adams, came into the year regarded as the No. 2 receiver in their offense. Beckham was regarded as second fiddle to Jarvis Landry in the LSU receiver room while Justin Jefferson had put together a strong campaign during Chase's freshman year. 

George Pickens is currently garnering all of the attention from the national media, while Burton is flying under the radar. 

Burton possesses a unique blend of physical traits and game-breaking speed, like each of the above players. He dominates corners off the line against the press.

It needs to be noted that this is not projecting that Burton overtakes Pickens. Rather, this is a projection that quarterback JT Daniels leads the offense to one of the best seasons in Bulldogs history.

What bodes well for Burton is much of the top receiver talent is leaving college. DeVonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle are departing from Alabama, Chase opted out this past season and won't be back, Rashod Bateman has left Minnesota and Rondale Moore has left Purdue. 

College football is in need of a breakout receiver and it appears that Burton could fit that bill.

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