Troup’s Chris Burnette said he was told by Georgia coach Mark Richt that he has never recruited a football player like him. Burnette, who has committed to the Bulldogs, is one of the nation’s top prospects, and he also is just as accomplished in academics. The 6-foot-3, 286-pound offensive lineman is in the running to be Troup’s valedictorian.
How serious is Burnette about his schoolwork? He changed his plans about enrolling early at Georgia this month so he could stay in high school to compete for the No. 1 academic honor among his senior class of 250 students.
Georgia supported Burnette’s decision.
“Coach Richt said that as long as he has been in coaching, even at Florida State, he couldn’t remember recruiting another valedictorian,” said the player’s father, Anthony Burnette.
“[Richt] said while initially he felt it would be good for Chris to come to Georgia early to help those guys out on the offensive line, at the same time he understood that being valedictorian was one of the most special things anyone could do in life.”
Here are three things you need to know about Burnette:
When Burnette was asked which he enjoyed more, playing football or making good grades, he didn’t need long to think about it.
“Football,” he said. “I’ve always loved football. Sometimes that’s why I made good grades, so my parents would let me play football. My parents have always made it clear that school comes first.”
Burnette was selected for the AJC’s Super 11 and also participated in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, which included the nation’s top high school seniors this past weekend in San Antonio. Burnette left an impression on Troup coach Bubba Jeter.
“I’ve been at this school for more than 20 years, and Chris is one of the most goal-oriented people I’ve come across,” Jeter said.
“He loves competition. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if he set his goal to start at Georgia and then to play football after college. Then, it wouldn’t surprise me to see him later on become a doctor, dentist, astronaut or whatever he decides he wants to be.”
Never made a B
Burnette has made nothing but A’s on his report card since he entered kindergarten. He has a 5.12 GPA at Troup and takes some college-level classes with the regular schedule.
“It was never about making A’s; it was all about doing the best I could in each class,” Burnette said. “When I realized that I could make A’s, then I told myself that I didn’t want to make B’s when I could be making A’s.”
Burnette’s work habits are legendary. While he was in middle school, his father woke up at 4 in the morning and noticed the light on in the back bedroom. Chris wasn’t sleeping, though. He was putting in extra time studying for a math test.
But Burnette’s straight-A streak is in jeopardy. He was challenged last semester by a non-required calculus class, which he thought would better prepare him for college.
Burnette said grades haven’t been released but that his teacher indicated he scored well on the final.
“I still feel pretty good about making an A,” he said.
Headed to Georgia
Despite being a childhood fan of the Bulldogs, Burnette’s choice of Georgia was a surprising one, considering he wanted to major in engineering, and he is not very interested in any of UGA’s engineering programs. He picked Georgia over Oklahoma, Florida, Georgia Tech and Alabama. He likes Georgia’s business school, and if he ever decides to try engineering, he’ll pursue it with a master’s degree.
Since committing to Georgia, Burnette has stayed in contact with many of the team’s recruits by sending out daily Bible verses on text messages.
“I look through the scripture and try to find something that applies to what is going on in my life and what is encouraging,” Burnette said. “Most of the guys seem to appreciate the verses.”
Quarterback Aaron Murray of Tampa, a member of the 2009 class who enrolled at Georgia this week, told Burnette that the text message is usually the last thing he reads before going to bed each night.
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