The revolving door that has become a part of the University of Arizona football program lately has swung again. And Braxton Burmeister has just rotated through it for a second time.
Burmeister, the four-star recruit who changed his mind last March after committing to the Wildcat program as a high school sophomore, changed it again a couple of months later and re-committed in May.
And then de-committed again on Friday. Go figure.
The dual-threat quarterback, rated this past season as the third-best QB in the state of California and No. 24 in the nation (Scout), was the crown jewel in Arizona’s 2017 recruiting class. He wrapped up a senior season that included 4,461 yards passing and 1,470 rushing, accounting for a total of 80 touchdowns on the season.
During his prep career, Burmeister ran and threw his way to 195 TDs and a combined gain of well over 15,000 yards.
Just last week we reported that the Oregon Ducks had put him at the top of their hit list – despite the fact that the senior at La Jolla Country Day High School was already getting measured for a red and blue uniform in Tucson.
Then, the rumors of his switch in allegiance were confirmed in a tweet from Burmeister on Friday.
Arizona’s head coach, Rich Rodriguez, was within days of nailing down the prize catch. Burmeister said he had planned to enroll in school by next week, whether in be in Tucson or Eugene. And national signing day is just a couple of weeks away.
Oregon’s offer reportedly came just 11 days ago and the Ducks swung into a full-court press to get the youngster to flip his commitment.
But Burmeister’s departure just puts him at the end of a parade leaving the Old Pueblo. In the last six weeks, Rodriguez has watched as seven commitments, including another four-star prospect, left for greener pastures. Maybe it has something to do with a 2016 season that finished 3-9 overall and just one conference win. But even under those circumstances, an exodus of this size is considered unusual.
And it hasn’t just been players punching their tickets to another destination. Arizona’s cornerbacks coach and one of Rodriguez’s top recruiters, Donte’ Williams, left after just one season to accept a similar position with Nebraska. Williams is considered one of the rising young coaches in the country, one that Sports Illustrated included in its list of top-10 recruiters.
It’s pretty easy to understand why Williams decided to leave. A pay boost of about $200,000 a year and a legitimate chance to win a national title with the Huskers is an enticement that’s difficult to pass up.
However, it’s not clear what convinced Burmeister to jump ship in the eleventh hour. Anu Solomon, who started under center for the Cats the last three seasons, announced his departure from the program four weeks ago. That left three scholarship quarterbacks on next season’s depth chart, with no clear favorite to win the starting job next season. Burmeister should have been able to challenge for that role.
At Oregon, he will likely have to get in line behind a returning starter, Justin Herbert, who threw for 1,936 yards and 19 TDs in nine games this year. And Herbert was a true freshman this season, so it could be a long wait to get on the field.
Before the recent defections began, Rodriguez said the 2017 recruiting could prove to be one of the best the Arizona program has seen.
With the loss of Burmeister, however, that prognosis needs some further consideration. The 23 players left in this class, if they all sign on Feb. 1, can’t generate that same cache. The only four-star prospect remaining is Nathan Tilford, a running back from Ontario, Calif., who committed in April of last year.
The coaching staff chipped in to buy a GPS monitor to keep track of Tilford until they get his signature on a national letter of intent.
OK, just kidding.
But then again, it might not be a bad idea.