Aric Burton competed at the Sunshine Showcase at Florida State University last Sunday, and less than 24 hours later, he was sleeping at a hotel in West Virginia. Burton and his family drove 11 hours to West Virginia, spent the night in a hotel, and drove three more hours to Morgantown for a camp.
The long journey was taxing, but Burton is glad he went. It paid off in the end. WVU offered Burton at the camp after a strong performance.
Burton is originally from Bavaria, Germany, and after finishing schooling in Europe, he’s planning on playing his senior season at Clearwater Academy International in Clearwater, Florida. Burton (6-foot-5, 210 pounds) also has offers from Arizona State, Charlotte and Minnesota.
WVU defensive coordinator and outside linebackers coach Jordan Lesley has been the main point of contact for Burton, but WVU head coach Neal Brown played a key role in offering him, too. A strong showing at Monday’s elite camp solidified the offer.
“The camp was really great,” Burton said. “I had a lot of fun and learned a lot of new things today. The coaches were really nice and helped me a lot.”
As the son of an American father and German mother, Burton has experienced life in America, from kindergarten through fourth grade, and in Germany — completing his schooling with an extra year of schooling. For his senior season, he’s coming to America.
Three years ago, Burton began with flag football in Germany. As he grew a little older, he moved to tackle football. That interest led to him preparing for a life of football.
“Brandon Collier, my mentor, CEO of PPI Recruits,” Burton said, “said I’m better off at playing as a d-end. Now, I’m one of the best.”
Collier, a former NFL player, founded PPI Recruits as a way for international athletes to reach the NCAA as American football players. Collier has helped WVU players such as Victor Wikstrom, Jairo Faverous and Edward Vesterinen in recent seasons and 2023 recruit Thomas Collins has picked up a WVU offer.
Burton originally began playing football as a wide receiver, but with the help of Collier, he switched to playing defensive end. At 6-foot-5, with explosive speed, it’s allowed him to reach his potential. As a European football player, Burton is aware of the difference in play, but it doesn’t affect him.
“I’m used to it, I already lived here, and it’s a whole different experience,” Burton said. “But I’m ready for the challenge.”
WVU’s elite camp was successful for Burton, who flashed his pass-rushing prowess, while also showing he’s versatile enough to play as a linebacker or defensive end. He said he was able to visit the WVU campus a bit after the camp, getting to learn the history of the team.
While Burton said there is no official visit planned yet, he’s thinking about visiting the campus in the future.
With how differently football is played in Germany, Burton said it’s on a whole other level. But with the way he’s trained over the past few years, he feels like he’s more than reached the level required for NCAA football. His agility and athleticism, he said, bodes well for his play.
With the WVU offer, Burton has now received multiple Power Five offers, and the WVU came as sort of a surprise.
“I’m really grateful for the offer, and at first I didn’t really know about it because the head coach only told my mentor, Brandon Collier, that I got an offer, so Brandon told me, and I was like, ‘what, oh my God!'” Burton said. “And then afterward, the head coach and staff came up to me and were like, ‘you performed today really good.'”
Since Burton’s first camp, picking up Arizona State as his first NCAA offer, he’s received a lot of attention from collegiate coaches. While he said he’s new to the experience, he’s liked it.
As a member of the U19 Munich Cowboys in Germany, one of Bavaria’s top American football teams, Burton has trained hard for a chance at playing American football in America. If he chooses WVU, he’ll provide a high-motor and strong work ethic for the Mountaineers.