Juwan Burgess, a 4-star athlete from Plant High School, sees football as so much more than just a game. While some people do it just to play for him it is so much more.
"Where I'm from, [football] is a way out," he said. "Me playing football, I can provide for my brothers and sisters and future relatives."
Burgess, who goes to school in Tampa, Florida, describes his neighborhood as "not safe at all." "You see stuff every day and live stuff every day," he continued. "I just can't wait to get out of here." This drive to pull himself and his family out of this area is one of Juwan's biggest motivating factors, he said.
"Seeing my father and my mother come home after working so exhausted they could barely walk and open the door, I don't want to them do that anymore," he said.
For most people, athletics are not a reasonable way out, but for Burgess that is not the case. He is a talented athlete, and is being recruited on both sides of the ball. ESPN Insider scouts described him as, "a slick athlete on both sides of the ball," with "a longer, leaner frame that should continue to fill out well."
At Plant, this past season, Burgess was slotted to play Wide Receiver, Corner and Safety but was held out for his entire junior season because of a new transfer rule that made him sit even though his transfer from Blake High School, in Tampa, Florida, was deemed eligible. Even though Burgess was found to have done nothing wrong he was forced to sit, and this revealed a lot about him as a person, according to his Plant High head coach Robert Weiner.
"During the whole time he wasn't able to play, he did not just go to defensive back and wide receiver and just get better at those skills," Weiner said. "He was our scout team quarterback and scout team free safety. He made our starting team so much better to have a player of his caliber over on the other side of the ball,playing on the 'scout team'. When he was on offense, he wouldn't even let me put a red jersey on him, he insisted on being tackled and he said, ' that's what will make the defense better.'"
At the team banquet, Burgess was voted Best Teammate in a "landslide," that was around 70 votes to three for the next closest player, according to Weiner. "I think everybody recognized what a tremendous asset he was to the team even if he wasn't able to be on the field and play with his great skills that he still was somebody who really really really added value every single day," Weiner added.
On the field, Burgess' self-described playing style is "swift," and one of his greatest assets is his ability to anticipate what the other player is going to do, because he plays on both sides.
"My strength, on the defensive side of the ball is I played receiver, so I know the receiver thinks, how he's going to develop his route and stuff," Burgess said. "I have that over whoever lines up in front of me. Then, on the offensive side of the ball, if I'm that receiver I already know what the cornerback's responsibility is so I can find ways to scheme the system."
Burgess's combination of skills and character has led to him currently holding 23 offers, from schools including Clemson, Miami, Florida, Alabama and Ohio State. According to Weiner, Burgess will be a "superstar at the next level. It really doesn't matter where somebody wants to play him, he'll be great wherever that is." That being said, Burgess sees himself playing defensive back at the next level, because of his "size and speed, and how [he] can track down the ball," he said.
As a free safety, where Burgess played at Blake, "he's long and rangy and has great instincts looking at everything in front of him and being able to range sideline to sideline," Weiner said. "But, we've, used him at corner and he's got tremendous cover skills at the corner. I think in college football and beyond, the guys that they look for who play safety actually they want corner skills anyways."
Burgess recently released his Top-5 list on twitter, and Clemson was left off, however, 247 Sports insiders, have the Tigers as a 50/50 shot to earn his commitment, with Miami, who included on the top-5 list, as the other school. The other schools on the top 5 list are Florida, Ohio State, Tennessee and Kentucky, who offered Burgess his first scholarship during his freshman year.
Off the field, Burgess said two of his favorite things to do are to cook and cut hair. His favorite dish is spicy chicken breast, which he likes to sauté. In college, Burgess said that he plans to study culinary arts; it just so happens that Clemson has a food nutrition and culinary sciences degree, which was rated in the top-30 earned a 94, out of 100, on startclass.com.