Alabama WR Jermaine Burton explains why he left Georgia

Credit: Hyosub Shin

Credit: Hyosub Shin

ATHENS — Jermaine Burton didn’t provide any revelations, but the junior wide receiver talked to Alabama media on Monday for the first time since transferring from Georgia after last season.

Burton played two seasons with the Bulldogs, including the national championship game against Alabama in January. He had three catches for 28 yards, including an 18-yard reception, for Georgia in its 33-18 win.

Thirteen days later, he enrolled at Alabama.

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“You know, fortunately, I’m just trying to make the best decision I can for my family,” Burton told reporters in Tuscaloosa. “Like I said, again, I couldn’t thank this program enough for the way they welcomed me and brought me in and treated me like one of their own. So, from this point on, I’m just focused on this team and what we can do to get better.”

Burton had a productive first two seasons with the Bulldogs. He started 15 of the 24 games he played and caught 53 passes for 901 yards and eight touchdowns. One of Georgia’s best deep-ball threats, his 19.1 yards per catch last season led all players with double-figure receptions. His 26 catches last season was fifth on the team.

Burton would have been in line for even more production with the Bulldogs this season. However, the 6-foot, 200-pound Atlanta native who signed with Georgia by way of Calabasas, Calif., entered the transfer portal a week after the national title game. He announced via social media he was heading to Alabama on Jan. 23.

“I can’t thank these guys enough,” Burton said of his new team. “Regardless of the outcome of last year’s game and me being on the other side of the ball, I’m here now, and I think that’s what I need to really focus on.”

Burton is expected to be the primary target for Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Bryce Young. Burton said he has known Young since high school, when Young played at Mater Dei High in Santa Ana, Calif., and Burton at Calabasas High.

“Jermaine is really cool to work with,” Young said of Burton at SEC Media Days last month. “Really good work ethic, super cool to work with. You can see how hard he is working to do what he came here to do and contribute. I’m excited for him. We’ve put a lot of time in, a lot of work, and he’s only going to improve.”

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Alabama lost leading receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie from last season’s team, as well as senior Slade Bolden to graduation and Javon Baker and Agiye Hall to transfer. The Crimson Tide also added Tyler Harrell from Louisville via the transfer portal.

Burton “might have seen a better opportunity because we’re a little bit more wide open and throw the ball more with a good quarterback,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said of Burton last spring. “… To get a more experienced player that has some playing time in this league probably is a good thing for us. We like his ability, and hopefully he’ll be able to be very productive for us.”

Saban recently lauded Burton for being one of Alabama’s most consistent receivers in preseason camp.

“My entire mindset is just to work and try to get the offense down with Bryce,” Burton said. “I’m working with some other players that are just as new as me. So, I’m just trying to focus (on) all those guys and just making sure that our bond is good.”

Though Georgia could have used Burton this season, the Bulldogs return four of their top five wideouts in terms of production in 2021. Georgia also lost junior George Pickens to the NFL after he played in four games due to a knee injury. Pickens was selected with the 52nd pick by Pittsburgh and has starred for the Steelers during training camp.