CLEARWATER – The first thing you notice about Clearwater Central Catholic wide receiver/safety Amari Burney is how heavily built he is. The rising junior stands at 6’2″, 201 lbs. and plays with an aggressive mindset that works to his advantage as both a receiver and a defensive back.
Burney led all Clearwater Central Catholic receivers with seven touchdowns last season coming on 20 receptions for 404 yards. He also totaled 91 tackles (54 solo), 21 pass breakups, five fumble recoveries, two forced fumbles and two interceptions on defense.
The Marauders have gone 23-3 in Burney’s two seasons including 12-1 in 2015. However, Delray Beach American Heritage has beaten CCC in the 3A state semifinals in both 2014 and 2015. The Marauders lost a close one 31-24 in November.
“It was a great experience for the team because people kept doubting us in the beginning of the season talking about how were weren’t going to make it that far in the playoffs,” Burney said. “When we made it that far, we were really happy. Even though we are still disappointed that we got knocked out by them again.”
Burney started his prep career playing defensive end at CCC where he had 73 tackles, 19 pressures, two sacks and a forced fumble as a freshman. Moving him to wide receiver and safety was simply the right choice. He’ll start at both of those positions this season.
He says he gained total confidence in his game last summer.
“Last summer is when I started going to training after every practice and getting my mind ready for the next year. My teammate C.J. Cotman is the one who put me onto the training after practice. He’s been pushing me the hardest.”
Right now, Burney’s mindset is on improving his speed. He says he has to get faster this off-season and is going to do a lot of work to get to that point. His last recorded 40-yard dash time was 4.65 seconds.
Right now Burney has seven offers including Michigan, Florida, Louisville, Kentucky, Auburn, Miami and Wisconsin. He also has interest from Clemson and Alabama. This summer he told me he’s planning to take visits to Clemson, Alabama and Michigan.
In terms of his biggest strength, Burney sizes that is his size. “I’m a lot bigger and faster than a lot of kids,” he says. He wants to continue to get better at coming out of his breaks and getting low with his hips and knees at wideout.
Starting his football career at age 5, Burney played quarterback but then moved to running back and wide receiver four years later. He trains every day during the summer with coach Brian Cooper and Rod Williams at All Star Sports in St. Pete.
Longtime head coach John Davis retired in December after serving 14 years as the man in charge at CCC. He posted a 54-11 record as his group made it to the state tournament four consecutive seasons including three state semifinals and one state final. He coached nine years prior in his first stint from 1994-2002. His son-in-law Chris Harvey takes over the job.
Burney says the transition from Davis to Harvey wasn’t a big one.
“He [Harvey] just followed him where he left off. I love the swagger that he brings. He’s much younger, so he’s into the team more. Coach Davis was laid back while coach Harvey is very enthusiastic.”
Davis left behind a legacy and Burney says he loved how much he pushed his group to the limit.
“In summer training, he [Davis] really conditioned his team the old school way. He just wanted you to be one unit on the field.”
Burney says Davis is still active with the team and comes around to check up on them often.
Even though he still has two years left of high school ball, Burney isn’t afraid to reveal his hopes and dreams.
“My ultimate goal is to make it to the NFL. If I don’t do that, then I would still be in football possibly as a trainer.”
This kid is a pure athlete. He takes quick screens up the field in a hurry and gains separation from defenders with ease. Like Burney said he’s a big player and he uses every bit of his size to his advantage.
As both an all-around wide receiver and a strong safety, Amari Burney alone is worth the price of admission on Friday night’s. It’s scary to think how much better he can become before he heads off to college two years from now.
Favorite players to watch – Florida State DB Derwin James, Michigan S Jabrill Peppers, L.A. Rams WR Tavon Austin
Playlist before games – Rap beats
Favorite movies – Captan America: Civil War
Favorite TV shows – The Flash
Fun fact about you that nobody knows – “I like dogs. My favorite kind of dog is a Chihuahua.”
Nickname from teammates or friends – “Burn Burn”
Game film: Burney’s Hudl tape
Photo credit: Scout
Jake Perper is the scout for Prep Sports Scouting. Make sure to follow along for all the updates on Twitter: @JakePerper.
If you have any questions or comments feel free to write below or email Jake at firstname.lastname@example.org.