Four-star outside linebacker/defensive end Clay Burton (Venice, Fla./Venice) didn’t need much time away from Notre Dame, to know that’s where he wants to spend the college chapter of his life.
A little under a week after departing from his first-ever visit to the South Bend campus, the 6-foot-4, 235-pound Burton pulled the trigger, verbally committing to Notre Dame. He chose the Irish over his other favorites, Clemson, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Tennessee.
“I just slept on it for about a week, and counseled with everyone important to me, my mom, my brother, my uncle, my grandmother, and all my high school coaches, and I decided it was the best fit for me and the perfect time to get it off my shoulders and relax," Burton explained. "They’re all happy about it, and so proud of me.”
Burton becomes the 10th verbal commit in Notre Dame’s recruiting class-of-2011, and the second linebacker, joining Jarrett Grace (Cincinnati, Ohio/Colerain). Burton will play the CAT linebacker spot in the Irish defense, the same position currently occupied by junior Darius Fleming.
“I called coach (Tony) Alford, and talked to him and coach (Bob) Diaco and coach (Kerry) Cooks, and I’ll be talking to coach (Brian) Kelly tonight,” Burton said. As a junior he registered 80 tackles and 12 sacks. “They’re excited about it and told me to celebrate. Now, I’m just ready to finish this summer, and finish my high school season, and get up there in December and earn my spot.”
Burton was close to committing last Saturday while he was on his three-day visit to Notre Dame with his uncle, but he wanted to talk it over with the rest of his family before making the call.
“Just the culmination of the football and tradition there, the education, and the great coaching staff they have in place now," Burton said of what drove him to his decision. "I’m just a perfect fit in the defense, and I feel no reason to visit anywhere else or talk to anyone else. I’m solid with my commitment.
“I’m so honored to even have the opportunity, and I’m definitely ready to help bring Notre Dame nation to where it should be. I want to be part of the revival of the program.”
Burton sees that ending in the National Championship game against his older brother Trey, currently a freshman quarterback at Florida.
“I’m looking forward to it. It would probably be one of the best days in my life. I’m just trying to work hard and just getting ready to start my career and legacy at Notre Dame.”
Besides his favorites, Burton had scholarship offers from the likes of Boston College, Cincinnati, Duke, LSU Ole’ Miss, Pittsburgh, Rutgers, Stanford, South Florida and West Virginia.