Analysis: A closer look at new WVU football transfer portal commit Ryder Burton

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West Virginia football earned another transfer portal commitment on Saturday morning -- and it's a move that could secure a bright future in the quarterback room in Morgantown, as well as giving the Mountaineers an opportunity to have one of the deepest depth charts at the position this fall.

Former BYU signal caller Ryder Burton announced today on social media platform “X” that he will be joining WVU’s roster for 2024. He’ll join projected starting quarterback Garrett Greene and former four-star recruit and high school All-American Nicco Marchiol as the program’s scholarship quarterbacks.

Burton was rated a three-star prospect in the Class of 2023 and signed with BYU over offers from UCLA, Nevada, San Jose State, and Southern Utah. As a freshman last fall, Burton burned his redshirt season and didn’t see action for the Cougars. He will have four seasons of eligibility remaining at the college level.

He was a two-year starter during his junior and senior seasons at Springville High School (UT) where he led his team to the 2021 and 2022 Utah High School Activities Association (UHSAA) Class 5A Playoffs. In 2021, as a junior, Burton led his team to the state championship contest before suffering a loss.

Burton completed 105-of-201 passes as a senior, finishing his final season with 1,972 passing yards and tossing 21 touchdowns to just six interceptions. The previous season, he went 144-for-241 through the air for 2,301 yards, 24 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

According to his high school coach Dave Valeti, Burton possesses a can-do attitude and a passion for football that drives a top-tier work ethic. In a 2022 interview, Valeti recalls meeting Burton for the first time as a wiry incoming freshman that had recently moved to Utah from Georgia with big ambitions.

“He said, ‘I’m Ryder Burton and I’m going to be your quarterback,’” Valeti said. “He probably mentioned five times he moved in from Georgia. He tried talking real low with his voice, but it wasn’t working. I was a little like, ‘What is this kid doing?’”

Valeti and his staff initially would not give Burton a shot at quarterback -- he was encouraged by many to find another local high school if he wanted a starting role as a signal caller. He stuck with it, though.

“I wanted to be the quarterback at Springville, not somewhere else. I knew I could,” he said in an interview.

By the time he was a junior, he had beaten out his teammate that everyone assumed would be the incumbent starter. Soon, it was Burton’s competition who transferred to a new home instead of himself.

“The other quarterback transferred out,” Velati said. “Burton texted me saying, ‘Wish he stayed, I told you I would beat him.’”

Burton describes his attitude as “confident, maybe a little cocky.” His mother Bryanna said that “everything he has put his mind to has come true.” That could be good news for Mountaineers fans, as the young gunslinger still has lofty expectations.

“But I haven’t been given anything. I worked for everything. That’s just who I am, if I say something I am going to do it,” he said. “One day, I want to win the Heisman.”

On film, Burton resembles the style of quarterback Brown has shown to prefer in athletes such as Greene and Marchiol. Perhaps Burton’s greatest asset is what appears to be an uncanny ability to evade defenders when the pocket breaks down, extending numerous plays with his legs while pinpointing open defenders down field.

He has a natural quickness and agility -- though maybe not quite the same as what Greene possesses -- and can find open running lanes when the passing options fall through. He makes multiple defenders miss on tape. He also has a nice arm, with a clear ability to deliver long passes deep downfield and a few highlights where he delivers hard-to-place passes over-the-shoulder or in his receivers’ hands through tight-knit coverage.

According to Valeti, he doubted Burton’s potential upside and ambitious goals at first. By the time Burton’s senior season rolled around and he was being interviewed about his starting quarterback’s future following his commitment to BYU, his tone had changed.

“I was with my wife the other day and I said, ‘You know, he is going to win the Heisman,” Valeti said. “I wouldn’t be surprised at all if he wins the job at BYU, they win the Big 12 with him. And I’ve never said that before.”

Now, Burton may just have his opportunity to win that Big 12 Championship and Heisman Trophy as an upperclassman once the two competitors in front of him exhaust their eligibility. And if he does, he’ll do so in the Mountaineer gold-and-blue.