Under Armour All-Americans Brandon Burton, Oluwole Betiku embrace family

Oluwole BetikuBrandon Burton (left) with members of his family and Oluwole Betiku (right) with his guardian Julia Boyer (Photo: Intersport)


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Junipero Serra teammates Brandon Burton and Oluwole Betiku received their honorary jerseys for the Under Armour All-American Game on Tuesday, and both talked about family.

The Selection Tour presented by American Family Insurance stopped in Gardena, California, for the presentations.

For Burton, family starts with his mother, Shavan Gray.

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“I grew up with her,” Burton said. “She had me young so we pretty much grew up together. I look to her to guide me.”

For Betiku, family is a bit more complicated. He came to the United States from Nigeria in the fall of 2013 and has not seen his parents or siblings since. He calls former NFL player LaVar Arrington, who has served as a mentor, his American dad. Julia Boyer, his guardian, attended the ceremony.

“I wish my family from Nigeria could be here … to watch all this happen,” he said.

“But you all are my family,” he told an assembly of Serra students and teachers.

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Burton is ranked as the No. 8 safety by ESPN and No. 163 overall in the Class of 2016. He has a busy plan for the fall with official visits to Oklahoma, Florida State, Notre Dame, Alabama and Ohio State. He also hasn’t ruled out Pac-12 schools with the intention of stopping at UCLA, Stanford and Arizona State.

“My dreams on the football field are to make it to the NFL,” he said. “That’s where it all started from and what I have wanted to do.”

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Whether that potential path continues on offense or defense remains to be seen, depending on the school he selects. Some prefer him as a wide receiver, others as a defensive backs, and some might consider him playing some of each.

There is no doubt where the 6-4 Betiku fits. Ranked as the No. 5 defensive end and No. 28 overall by ESPN, he committed to UCLA in August. He is looking at the Under Armour game as a chance to see where he stacks up among the top players in the nation.

“I’m looking forward to going 1 on 1 with the other guys the most,” he said. “Going against the best players gets you better. It’s going to expose what you have really to work on. … you really don’t get to go against those guys every day …

“(This is all) just a dream come true.”

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Jeff Fisher
Jeff is an award-winning journalist and expert in the field of high school sports, underscored with his appearance on CNBC in 2010 to talk about the big business of high school football in America. Jeff turned to his passion for high school football into an entrepreneurial venture called High School Football America, a digital media company focused on producing original high school sports content for radio, television and the internet. Jeff is co-founder and editor-in-chief of High School Football America, which is a media partner with USA TODAY High School Sports.