William Penn's Burton signs with Virginia

William Penn's Burton signs with Virginia

Video

William Penn's Burton signs with Virginia

By

William Penn's Zach Burton evades St. Georges' Jalen Smith in the third quarter of the Colonials' 27-24 win at Caravel Academy Friday.

William Penn’s Zach Burton evades St. Georges’ Jalen Smith in the third quarter of the Colonials’ 27-24 win at Caravel Academy Friday.

Zachariah Burton signs with Virginia
Defensive back to graduate from William Penn in December, enroll at Virginia in January and participate in spring practice
Salesianum 7, Caravel 0
Top-ranked Sals shut out Buccaneers in early season soccer matchup
Athlete of the Week: Mickey Henry
St. Elizabeth offensive tackle helps Vikings rush for six TDs in win over McKean
Dover coach Rudy Simonetti looks to turn program around
New coach comes from North Jersey to take over Senators in his first high school head coaching job
Doc’s Week 1 #delhs football picks
The mad scientist returns for another season of Delaware gridiron action.
Delaware high school football Div I preseason rankings
Delaware high school football Division I preseason rankings
Delaware high school football Div II preseason rankings
Delaware high school football Division II preseason rankings
Woodbridge favored in Henlopen South
Blue Raiders return much of team that reached Division II semifinals
New Newark coach Barry Zehnder
Newark alum Barry Zehnder reolaces Butch Simpson, who coached the Yellowjackets for 39 years
Ten can’t miss Delaware high school football games
With each of Delaware’s 43 high school football teams about to embark on nine- or 10-game seasons, there will be no shortage of action throughout the fall. Here are 10 games that will capture a lot of interest on each weekend of the season.
4-foot-8 football player relishes hitting
Brandywine High School junior Felicia Perez strives to make an impact
Brad Myers tours the state on the first day of football practice
News Journal high school sports reporter Brad Myers travels the state for the fifth annual Gridiron Tour as he goes from school to school on the first day of football practice in Delaware.
Tatnall football to play night home game
Hornets to bring in temporary lights for Sept. 30 game against Tower Hill.
Coaches prepare for high school football season
Delaware high school football coaches begin preparation for the start of the season on the first day of practice.

NEW CASTLE – Most high school athletes want the maximum amount of buzz when they sign a National Letter of Intent to accept a college athletic scholarship.

Not Zachariah Burton.

The William Penn senior signed to play football at the University of Virginia on Thursday morning. The ceremony — if you can call it that — took place in a small conference room at the high school. Only his parents — Frank Sr. and Tasey — three assistant coaches and one reporter were present.

“I didn’t want too much attention,” Burton said. “… The fanfare, all the flashing lights, that doesn’t really mean anything to me.”

The football signing period doesn’t begin until Feb. 1, but seniors who plan to graduate from high school early may sign earlier. Burton said Dec. 16 will be his final day at William Penn. Then the 6-foot-2, 187-pound defensive back will enroll at Virginia in January and be eligible to participate in spring practice.

“It’s something that I wanted to do since I found out about it last year,” he said. “I just heard from a lot of people that it would be a good decision, it would be something that would help me both in the classroom and on the field.”

Early graduations are increasing among college-bound football players. Middletown quarterback Darius Wade left high school early to get a jump on his competition at Boston College three years ago.

Burton earned this opportunity by lighting it up in the classroom and on the field. He received recruiting interest from close to a dozen colleges, with the final decision coming between Virginia and Connecticut. He had already been exposed to the recruiting process after watching his older brother — William Penn defensive lineman Frank Burton Jr., who signed with Ball State — go through it last year.

“It just came down to which one felt like home, which one would push me to be a better person,” Burton said. “I feel like Virginia will just push me ahead.”

The Cavaliers are in their first season under coach Bronco Mendenhall, who was hired after going 99-43 with 11 straight bowl appearances at Brigham Young. Virginia was 4-8 last season and is off to an 0-2 start this year after losses to Richmond and Oregon.

“I’m excited to just be a part of coach Mendenhall’s program,” Burton said. “I feel like he’s really going to turn the program around. I believe that something big is brewing in Charlottesville.”

Of course, Burton would like to brew something big in New Castle first. He was a sophomore starter in the defensive backfield when the Colonials won the DIAA Division I championship two years ago. William Penn fell in the D-I semifinals last season.

On offense, Burton moved from receiver to quarterback for his senior season. Last Friday, he threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Terin Cochran in the second quarter and scored the winning touchdown on a 10-yard run in the final two minutes as William Penn edged St. Georges 27-24 in its opener. The sixth-ranked Colonials play host to No. 3 Middletown at 1 p.m. Saturday.

“The goal is still the same,” Burton said. “Go out and play hard and try to win a championship.”

Then head off to Virginia, without any fanfare.

Contact Brad Myers at bmyers@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.

Don’t miss a thing

Search for The News Journal to get our apps
Download our apps and get alerts for local news, weather, traffic and more. Search “The News Journal” in your app store or use these links from your device: iPhone app | Android app for phone and tablet | iPad app
Don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook!

Latest

More USA TODAY High School Sports