E.A. Sports Today

Burnett is non-stop

Saks defensive end with enormous upside signs to play with Butler CC, seen as SEC player with the proper seasoning

Saks coach Jonathan Miller is flanked by seniors DeMario Burnett (L) and Demetrius Powell after the players announced their post-high school playing intentions Wednesday. On the cover, Burnett awaits the start of the ceremony.

Saks coach Jonathan Miller is flanked by seniors DeMario Burnett (L) and Demetrius Powell after the players announced their post-high school playing intentions Wednesday. On the cover, Burnett awaits the start of the ceremony.

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

As he signed the paper to secure his immediate football future, surrounded by family and friends, DeMario Burnett was thinking of someone close who wasn’t in attendance at his signing party.

Burnett lost his grandmother in October; it was always her wish he aspire to great things. As he signed the letter to play at Butler (Kan.) Community College Wednesday, the big Saks defensive end with an even bigger upside couldn’t forget the promise he made her that will forever drive him moving forward.

“My motto is ‘won’t stop, can’t stop and never will stop,’” the 6-foot-6 senior said. “Every second that I’m breathing – and I made this promise to my grandmom before she passed away — every second that clock ticks, I’m on it, on top of my game, and I’m not going to stop.

“I’m going in the summer and work my way up and grind it out and hopefully by December I’ll be ready to go into the SEC world, which I will be ready because my performance level will be outstanding. I really want to get myself in a predicament where I can succeed. I know up there they’re going to push me and stay with me … so I’m just ready.”

Burnett only played for the Wildcats as a varsity regular this season, but in that short time the coaching staff knew it had the potential for a special player on its hands. Assistant coach Michael Easley knew it the minute he laid eyes on him.

Burnett came to Saks with his mother as a 10th grader to enroll shortly after the Wildcats’ basketball team returned from the state Final Four. Easley happened to be in the office at the time and, seeing potential post help standing in front of him, asked if Burnett played sports. When he answered in the affirmative — football and basketball — Easley directed mom to the principal’s office and took Burnett directly to coach Jonathan Miller.

College coaches have recognized the potential in Burnett, too. Many project him as a future SEC player, but he first needs a JUCO bridge for academic and athletic seasoning. Miller estimated he spoke with 10 top quality junior college programs interested in the player over the last week.

Before picking Butler, it was believed Burnett was close to signing with Murray State.

“Never really had that much interest out of any player before from junior colleges,” Miller said. “He had a lot of good options. DeMario doesn’t understand how high his ceiling is. He’s got all the potential in the world. I think with a little work in the weight room, take care of his academics, he can possibly find himself in the SEC one day. He’s got that kind of skill and size. He’s got everything out in front of him. All he has to do is got to Butler and take care of business.”

If Burnett develops as projected, programs from across the country will come vying for his attention. Right now he really likes North Carolina.

He certainly doesn’t lack the enthusiasm or confidence to make a go of it.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re succeeding or not, it’s on the players,” he said. “If I can get up there and get them with my mentality and we all connect, sparks are going to catch.”

Burnett was joined at the signing ceremony by teammate Demetrius Powell. The versatile Powell signed with the start-up Alabama Prep Academy in hopes of enhancing his academic situation before seeking a shot with possibly Shorter or Tuskegee, where his uncle, former Anniston High star Montressa Kirby, is the quarterbacks coach.

Powell decided on the prep school option last week.



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