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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, January 16, 2009

California lineman commits to Hawaii

By Stephen Tsai
HawaiiWarriorBeat.com Editor

An athletic high school lineman from Sacramento has accepted a scholarship offer from the University of Hawai'i football team.

"I decided to commit," said Pierce Burton of Rio Americano High. "It's the place for me."

By accepting, he is turning down an appointment from the U.S. Military Academy. He also received interest from Boise State and San Jose State.

"Right now, (the Warriors) are recruiting me as an athlete," said Burton, who is 6 feet 7 and 250 pounds. "It depends on how my body develops. If I stay the same size and get stronger, I'll be a defensive lineman. They're hoping I'll gain 50 pounds and be an offensive tackle. They think with my height and build, I should be an offensive lineman."

Burton envisioned being a college basketball player after growing to 6 feet 6 in the eighth grade. But he grew only an inch after that.

"I always wanted to play football," Burton said. "But I was concerned I might get hurt and wouldn't be able to pursue basketball. But now everything is falling into place as far as football goes."

He joined the football team, as a tight end, in August 2007. During spring training in April 2008, he began working out as a lineman on both offense and defense.

The Raiders were 8-2 during the 2008 regular season. They lost in the first round of the playoffs. Burton was named the Raiders' top defensive lineman. He had 70 tackles and 11 sacks.

Burton gained notice when he attended the Nike combine in Oakland.

Out of more than 1,000 players, he was ranked No. 4. The top three were running backs. The rankings were based on an index that corresponds to a player's height and weight with his performance in the 40-yard dash, pro-agility shuttle, vertical jump and powerball throw. Burton's score was the best nationally among offensive linemen and tight ends.

At the combine, he ran the 40 in 5.0 seconds, had a vertical jump of 30 inches and threw the 7-pound powerball 45 feet. The powerball replaced the bench-press drill as a measuring tool. He is capable of benching a maximum 350 pounds.

Burton said he took a recruiting trip to Hawai'i the past weekend. Offensive linemen Aaron Kia and John Estes and cornerback Jeramy "J.B." Bryant were his hosts.

"I had a good time," said Burton, who was impressed with the coaching staff and the program.

His appreciation for Hawai'i might be genetic.

Burton said his father, Larry, lived on Maui for three years when he was in his early 20s.

"He loved to surf there," Burton said.


The winter/spring semester of the Hawai'i Speed and Quickness Clinic begins tomorrow at the UH's Klum Gym.

Sessions tomorrow and Sunday are from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. Each session is $10.

The clinic is open to all ages.

For details, go to www.hawaiispeedandquickness.com, or call 949-5997.

Visit Tsai's blog at http://warriorbeat.honadvblogs.com.

Reach Stephen Tsai at stsai@honoluluadvertiser.com.