Notre Dame target Brandon Burton not ready to pick

Tyler James
South Bend Tribune

Force Brandon Burton to choose and he will still defer.

The two-way athlete maintains that his only preference of playing offense or defense is that he gets to play both.

“It really gives you a chance to showcase your talents,” Burton said.

The 6-foot-1, 190-pound prospect had those talents on display at The Opening Finals in Beaverton, Ore. The four-star recruit spent time catching touchdowns at wide receiver and intercepting passes at safety. Rivals rates Burton as a four-star recruit and the No. 2 athlete in the 2016 class. 247Sports slates him as a three-star prospect and the No. 25 safety.

Given a scenario in which he needed to win a single rep of one-on-one, Burton insisted that he’d let his opponent choose his position. His confidence holds strong in either situation.

“Right now everything is coming into balance,” Burton said. “I’m pretty good on offense and pretty good on defense.”

That’s why, at least for now, many teams are telling Burton he could play both ways in college. Several of his top schools, including Notre Dame, have incorporated that opportunity in his recruiting pitch. Now he’s trying to sort through his options.

Burton is working with a top list of seven schools: Notre Dame, Alabama, Ohio State, UCLA, Arizona, Florida State and Oklahoma. He’s considering an official visit to South Bend for Notre Dame’s game against USC.

The Irish have made an impression on Burton with associate head coach Mike Denbrock and head coach Brian Kelly leading the way.

“The persistence from the coaching staff grabbed my attention,” Burton said. “Coach Denbrock, Coach Kelly and all of them. They’ve been after me real genuinely.”

Burton said academics will play a big role in his eventual commitment decision — a sign that Notre Dame could be a legitimate contender in his recruitment.

“I want to go to a place where I can get a career when I get done playing,” Burton said.

But pulling a player out of California powerhouse Gardena Serra, a USC pipeline, has been a challenge for the Irish in recent years. That hasn’t stopped Notre Dame from trying in the 2016 class. In addition to Burton, Notre Dame has been in pursuit of defensive end Oluwole Betiku and cornerback C.J. Pollard, who committed to USC at The Opening.

Both Betiku and Burton are planning to visit Notre Dame. Hosting the duo together certainly couldn’t hurt the Irish.

“We talk about making visits together,” Burton said. “Me and Wole and me and C.J., we always talk about that.”

Burton is also being pulled by a pair of quarterback recruits to their schools. Malik Henry, who Burton has known since he was nine years old, is trying to get him to join him at Florida State. Khalil Tate, the starting quarterback at Serra, wants Burton to follow him to Arizona.

His work on both sides of the ball at The Opening drew praise. That’s why choosing a school might not be as hard for Burton as choosing a position.

“I know there’s been a lot of doubt about my man coverage skills and actually reading the field,” Burton said. “I came out here trying to prove to all the people that I am the top athlete in the nation and I deserve to be here.”

Below are Burton's junior highlights via Hudl.

tjames@ndinsider.com | 574-235-6214 | Twitter: @TJamesNDI

Two-way athlete Brandon Burton is not ready to pick a position yet. (Photo courtesy of Student Sports)