Why Alabama’s Jermaine Burton will be the X-factor this season

Alabama wide receiver Ja'Corey Brooks (7) and Alabama wide receiver Jermaine Burton (3) celebrate against Tennessee at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN on Saturday, Oct 15, 2022. Photo courtesy SEC Media

By WVUA 23 Digital Reporter Sam Thornton

TUSCALOOSA-University of Alabama football wide receiver Jermaine Burton is entering his senior season in Tuscaloosa with a predictable chip on his shoulder. After transferring from Georgia after his sophomore year, Burton contributed 667 yards with seven touchdowns under his first season with Nick Saban.

College football analysts and fans might’ve had higher hopes for Burton in year one. His return for another season with new offensive coordinator Tommy Rees hints that there’s unfinished business to proceed this year. In fact, one could even say that Burton will be Alabama’s X-factor once the season kicks off in September.

Why does this make sense?

Like last season, there’s questions entering the year among the wide receiver core. Which player will solidify himself as the number one target and find full trust in their quarterback? Jahmyr Gibbs was that player last season for Alabama as a running back, especially in the first half of the schedule.

It was hard for someone in the wide receiver room to fill the role of a pure difference maker in tough spots Alabama faced. You can go down the list of returning wideouts like Ja’corey Brooks, Isaiah Bond, and Kobe Prentice.

The separation that Burton holds is championship experience with Georgia two seasons ago. His play gears toward explosive pickups with his deceptive speed, which is exactly what needs to be established again in the passing game. Speed killers like Jameson Williams and Jaylen Waddle were former X-factors for Alabama that could flip the switch of a game in an instant. Burton can apply that same tone in his own form back to this years team.

This idea will be easier said than done. All three quarterbacks in Alabama’s depth chart including Jalen Milroe, Ty Simpson and Tyler Buchner have historically struggled with deep ball accuracy. Although, that deep threat connection isn’t always on the quarterback.

Burton can step in as the receiver that emphasizes his ability to be there when he needs to, along with routes in the middle of the field to generate speed in the open pockets. His versatility is shown by lining up anywhere on the field to create plays.

If Burton can show these attributes early and often in camp, Rees will surely take note and be willing to draw up more plays for him. It’s expected that Rees will rely on Alabama’s run game for early downs, but long conversions in a variety of ways on third down will break the spirit of opposing defenses.

A synchronized dynamic from both Burton and Rees will make whoever is named the starting quarterback’s job a whole lot easier.

Burton was the leading receiver last season and became one of quarterback Bryce Young’s favorite targets to end the year. His factors and established momentum can turn him into the player many fans, and himself thought he could be when he initially transferred to Alabama.

It’s encouraging Burton decided to run it back for another year, because he knows his ceiling has yet to be seen before he enters the NFL. Becoming the solidified X-factor to this offense would increase his chances of becoming a first round draft pick and lead Alabama back to the college football playoff.

Categories: Alabama, College Sports, Local News