May 13, 2010

Burton names early top seven

Clay Burton still laughs when he recalls his run-in with Chris Vaughn in the halls of Venice (Fla.) High School.

Burton, the highly-recruited defensive end from Venice, crossed paths with Ole Miss' recruiting coordinator/cornerbacks coach earlier this month.

"He said I looked like Christmas morning," Burton said, laughing. "He made a great impression. He's a really funny guy."

Vaughn has been one of several college coaches to make their way down to Venice to check out the 6-foot-3, 230-pound Burton. Ole Miss, Georgia, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee, Purdue, Alabama, Georgia Tech, South Florida and Florida, among others, have made the trip.

"It's heating up," Burton said. "I'm pretty excited."

Thirteen schools have offered Burton, and while he's not necessarily close to a decision, he said Tuesday night seven stand out.

In no particular order, Burton said Clemson, Notre Dame, Georgia Tech, Tennessee, Pittsburgh, Ole Miss and South Florida make up an early top seven. All of those schools have offered scholarships.

The wildcard in the mix, Florida, hasn't offered, though the Gators attended practice at Venice on Tuesday. Burton's brother, Trey, is a freshman quarterback at Florida.

"They'd be put in that top group (if the Gators offered)," Burton said. "It'd be an honor to play there and an honor to share that experience with my brother. I still have to do what's best for me. I have other schools that I'm equally interested in."

Burton said three coaches have made lasting impressions so far on the recruiting circuit, including Vaughn, Notre Dame's Tony Alford and Georgia Tech's Charles Kelly. As for Vaughn, Burton said the Rebels' assistant has emphasized how much they want to get the talented pass rusher to Oxford on a visit.

"They're definitely trying to get me to camp this summer," Burton said. "(Vaughn) said he wants to get one of my five (official) visits and he wants that trip to be my second or third trip there. He's really selling the program and trying to get me in touch with (Ole Miss) Coach (Houston) Nutt."

Burton said he's not sure what his summer travels will entail.

"My No. 1 loyalty is to my team," Burton said. "I'm not going to miss workouts for trips. But I want to see as many schools as I need to see so that I can make the best decisions for me."

Burton admitted the run of attention has been "kind of confusing. One day, I'm ready to commit and tell the coaches. The next day I'm wide open. It's really stressful."

For now, however, Burton's attention is focused on Friday's scrimmage at Naples, which will wrap up Venice's spring.

"At first, it was tough trying to get back in the swing of things," Burton said. "Now I'm just trying to get better every day and be a leader for my teammates. We look good, especially our defense as a whole."

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