— ⚔HoosUp⚔ (@Royal_Hoos) September 15, 2016
Make it three members of the class of 2017 who have signed grant-in-aid paperwork with the University of Virginia football program.
The latest signee is Zachariah Burton, a 6’1”, 185-pound defensive back prospect. Unlike an official letter of intent, a grant-in-aid in non-binding, meaning Burton can still go still to another school. The William Penn (New Castle, DE) senior’s plans, though, appear firm. He will graduate from high school in December and enroll at Virginia in January.
“I wanted to learn more,” Burton replied when asked why he wants to enroll midyear. “I also want to get bigger, faster and stronger. It would be a bonus to see a lot of playing time as a freshman as well.”
Aside from his brother who is at Ball State and sister who works in New York, Burton’s family and coaches were by his side when he signed with the Cavaliers on September 15. He described his version of National Signing Day as “almost exactly how I wanted to be.”
“It was very nice,” Burton wrote in a Twitter direct message.
Carver (Winston-Salem, N.C.) senior defensive back prospect Germane Crowell Jr. and Lake Braddock (Burke, VA) senior tailback prospect Lamont Atkins have signed grant-in-aid papers with Virginia as well. Just like Burton, they plan to enroll on Grounds next January.
Since midyear enrollees can count toward the current class or the previous class, the decisions of Burton, Crowell Jr., and Atkins allow for Bronco Mendenhall to have some increased flexibility in terms of scholarship numbers in 2017 Class recruiting. UVA’s current 2017 Class commitment total is 18, and FBS football programs are only allowed to enroll 25 players in a given class.
Mendenhall arrived at UVA in December of 2015, so 2017 will be his first full class as Cavalier head coach. Virginia’s 0-2 start to the 2016 season has not changed Burton’s feeling about where his future coach can take this program.
“I think that if you give coach Mendenhall some time, he’s going to make UVA a threat in these next few years and everyone is going to be a part of it,” Burton wrote.
Burton boasts improved coverage and technique as a senior at the cornerback position, which is where he likely will begin his Cavalier career. Corner is one of several roles he is playing for William Penn. Quarterback is another, and Burton’s fourth quarter 10-yard touchdown run boosted the Colonials to a season opening win over St. Georges Tech last week.