The 2023 high school football season is one month away and the young talent in Western Pennsylvania is very strong, especially the class of 2025.
Headlining that group of upcoming juniors is Imani Christian Academy four-star linebacker Dayshaun Burnett.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound outside linebacker is the leader of an Imani Christian squad that is very talented and has multiple D-1 prospects. At this stage of his recruitment, Burnett holds offers from Pitt, Penn State, West Virginia, Michigan, Michigan State, Rutgers, Duke, UConn, Kentucky, Toledo, Central Michigan, Marshall, UMass and Akron.
Although team practices are starting for local teams, Burnett tells Pittsburgh Sports Now that he hasn’t really had an offseason. Although he’s a highly-rated national recruit, there were parts of his game that Burnett wanted to improve and has religiously worked since December to try and make himself a better player.
“I’ve enjoyed my summer but honestly, I’ve been on the field working all summer too,” Burnett tells PSN. “Right now, we’re doing team chemistry and we’ve been doing a bunch of 7-on-7’s. I really feel like the chemistry is really going to be there for us on the field. The expectations for myself and our team are extremely high this season. One thing that we’ve done is let everyone know that if you come here (Imani Christian), you’re expected to be a winner. We really have to teach the newcomers because they don’t know, and we really have to set the standard.
“Me personally, the main thing that I’ve really been working on is my explosiveness, me being able to come downhill faster and my play-making recognition. I’ve also been watching a lot of film. I’ve been working a lot with my personal trainer, Michael Booth. He’s helping me with my explosiveness, my lateral movement, my elusiveness and stuff of that nature.”
While Burnett’s main focus is one winning a championship, he also realizes the level of recruit that he is and with that comes a bunch of attention.
“I’d say that I’m kind of getting used to the notoriety, but at the same time, it still hasn’t sunk yet and it’s like, ‘Wow I’m really getting offers from all of these colleges.’ I remember when I was young, I just dreamed of stuff like that and now I’m living it, so it’s kind of crazy.
“Sometimes, I make the decision to just shut my phone off, try and get away from recruiting and just do some other hobbies around the house aside from football. That really helps me take my mind off things.”
In terms of where his recruitment stands, Burnett tells me that while he’s still taking in offers, he realizes that he’s going into his junior season and in some way wants to maybe narrow some things down soon.
Two upcoming visits that Burnett has scheduled are to Penn State this weekend and to Michigan in the near future.
My last question for Burnett is how he’d describe his current relationship with Pitt.
“Pitt has been in touch with me a lot and I’m down there a lot because it’s right down the street,” said Burnett. “Me personally, I feel that I have a really good relationship with them, and I feel that the Pitt staff has a great relationship with their players. You can really tell that the coaching staff is all about their players and making sure everyone is ok and doing good. I have a good relationship with Coach Manalac, who’s a great guy, along with Coach Cory (Sanders).”
Burnett says that he very much feels like a priority recruit with the Pitt coaching staff.