True freshman guard Jager Burton was running with the twos during Saturday’s open practice. The Frederick Douglass product has added over 25 pounds of good weight since arriving to campus and is making a push for early playing time. Burton has displayed the potential to develop into another elite product of UK’s celebrated offensive line which has earned the nickname as the Big Blue Wall.
The Impact of Luke Fortner’s Leadership
A great deal has been written about Kentucky’s veteran leadership and its significance to the younger players on the team. Jager Burton credits super-senior Luke Fortner in helping his transition to college football.
“Luke has been a good influence on me. He’s helping me to learn the plays and helps me watch and critique myself on film. To be able to watch him and how he does stuff helps because he does things the right way and implementing, that has helped a bunch.”
Fortner’s tutelage was on full display during Saturday’s open practice. He was often seen mentoring the Wildcats’ abundance of youthful talent while on the sideline during team periods.
Celebrated High School Career
Burton came to UK as the most celebrated offensive linemen in Kentucky history. The 6’4, 300-pound guard was the unanimous No. 1-ranked prospect in the Commonwealth. He was the winner of the 2020 Paul Hornung Award, chosen by the Louisville Quarterback Club, as the top high school player in Kentucky. Burton also made history by being the first offensive lineman to be selected as Kentucky’s Co-Mr. Football.
Early Enrollment and Adding Good Weight
Jager Burton arrived to UK’s campus as a 275-pound, highly athletic prospect. He’s transitioned his body to become a 300-pound interior offensive lineman that is competing for first-year playing time. Burton credits early enrollment for a body change that is helping his adjustment to college football.
“Being able to come in early to lift and put on good weight helped. I was about 270 whenever I came in and I got up to 305. I’ve dropped about five pounds.”
He’s playing right guard and is behind fellow central Kentucky native Eli Cox on the depth chart.
UK was the “Right Decision”
Burton grew up in Lexington. Keeping the All American home was a priority for Mark Stoops. He was a highly sought after prospect that sported offers from nearly every football powerhouse across the nation. Burton reaffirmed his decision on becoming a Wildcat on Media Day.
“I just know I made the right decision. Towards the end there is was either Kentucky or Alabama. I’m really excited I came here. I’m excited to get a chance to compete early and play my freshman year.”
He has also established goals for his rookie season which are to solidify his position in the rotation and to be on the travel squad. It’s safe to say that both are attainable.
What Does All This Mean?
Jager Burton’s high school evaluation was easy. Burton was considered the most athletic offensive linemen in the Class of 2021. Safely projecting the addition of good weight was a consideration. The same can be said about his well-documented work ethic. He’s fulfilled that prediction by adding 25 pounds since his arrival to campus and by leaning on experienced players for guidance. Kentucky is deep in its interior offensive line. Moving Luke Fortner to center has led to an opening in the Wildcats’ rotation. Burton has filled that role and has actually exceeded expectation in Lexington.
Kentucky’s proven ability to develop elite offensive linemen will only help in the freshman’s progress. Burton will be a multi-year starter and has all the makings of becoming an All-SEC caliber player. It’s safe to say that he indeed made the right decision to stay home and become a Wildcat.