Former Georgia wide receiver Jermaine Burton will transfer to Alabama after finishing second on the Bulldogs in receiving yards (and first among wideouts) in 2021, the sophomore announced Sunday evening on Twitter.
Burton was a key cog during the Bulldogs' national championship run, catching three passes for 85 yards and a touchdown during the two College Football Playoff games. He finishes his two-year run in Athens with 901 yards receiving, 53 receptions and eight touchdowns.
The Calabasas, California, native was rated the No. 9 overall transfer by the 247Sports Transfer Portal ratings and tied with Oklahoma transfer Mario Williams, now with USC, as the top-rated receiver. Burton is the third transfer among the top 10 prospects to choose Alabama, along with former LSU cornerback Eli Ricks and former Georgia Tech running back Jahmyr Gibbs.
Here are some a few key takeaways from Burton's decision to head to Tuscaloosa.
Georgia won its first national championship since 1980, but the passing game left plenty to be desired for its receivers. Despite finishing second on the team in yards receiving, Burton received just 30 targets, tied with running back James Cook for fourth on the team. For comparison, Alabama receivers Jameson Williams and John Metchie III combined for 243 targets. Five of the seven most targeted players at Georgia averaged a depth of target (ADOT) fewer than 10 yards down the field. Burton's ADOT was 14.3.
Put simply, Georgia's offense hamstrung one of its most dynamic playmakers on the field thanks to its relative inability to get him the ball. Enter Heisman winner Bryce Young at Alabama, who did most of his damage down the field with Williams and Metchie. With both off to the NFL, Burton will finally have a shot to prove he can be an explosive player.
Both Metchie and Williams went down with injuries after the regular season. While Alabama has recruited the receiver position well, it was jarring how young that group played in the College Football Playoff National Championship loss to Georgia. After losing tight end Jahleel Billingsley to Texas, the need for pass-catchers was even greater.
Burton presents an instant-impact transfer who could quickly add a star to the receiver room. If Burton hits as the next Williams -- a successful transfer in his own right from Ohio State -- the depth suddenly looks much more promising. Freshman Ja'Corey Brooks caught a critical touchdown against Cincinnat in the playoff and Traeshon Holden had six catches in the title game. JoJo Earle was a touted recruit who struggled with injuries. Having an alpha in the room would transform it.
Winning the transfer portal
Alabama coach Nick Saban has done nearly everything better than the field since taking over the Crimson Tide in 2007. Today, he's become the master of the transfer portal.
Instead of trying to rebuild a whole roster with transfers, Saban has identified specific holes to improve. In 2021, Saban added Williams and Tennessee linebacker Henry To'o To'o, both of whom were major contributors. In 2022, Saban identified wide receiver, cornerback and running back as positions of need. He promptly added arguably the best transfers in the nation at each position.
Saban is a fantastic on-field football coach, but his flexibility -- both on and off the field -- are what sets him apart as the greatest of all time. With the transfer portal, he's found yet another way to beat his rivals.