For months, it appeared Armonii Burden was going to follow in brother Kapri Doucet’s football footsteps. Instead, he’ll be standing shoulder to shoulder with him this fall as part of the Hampton University linebacker corps.
Burden, a Lafayette High senior, said Tuesday that he has committed to a full football scholarship to play for Hampton. Doucet, who played a season for national power Oklahoma, transferred to Hampton and will play his final season of collegiate ball there this fall.
Before playing at Oklahoma, Doucet, a Bruton High graduate, played two seasons at two-year school Lackawanna College in Pennsylvania. Burden, 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, committed in February to play for Lackawanna, but Hampton began recruiting him shortly thereafter and recently offered, so now he will realize a dream-come-true of playing beside his brother.
“Growing up, he was about five years older than me and I never had a chance to play with him except in sandlot football in the neighborhood,” Burden said. “Something we talked about as kids was playing on a team together, so why not make it happen?
“It’s a good fit for me and for him. It’s a good program and we both have a chance to play right away.”
Playing running back and defensive end last season, Burden was one of the stars on a Lafayette team that reached the Class 4 state semifinals. In addition to 107 tackles, 11 of them sacks, he returned three fumbles for touchdowns.
He believes playing for Lafayette helped prepare him to play on the collegiate level.
“When you play at Lafayette, we always make it far in the season, so you always play against good competition,” he said. “We play at a high level, hard-nosed and physical, so that will get you right for anything.
“We lift weights year-round, so that will get you big, and we do a lot of study, so that will get you ready for the mental part, too.”
Burden said he was recruited by Hank Hughes, the Pirates’ defensive coordinator. Hughes, who coaches the linebackers, will also be Burden’s position coach.
“He said he likes my size, my frame, he said he thinks I can move, he likes my intensity and physicality, and he likes the way I use my hands,” Burden said. “He called me ‘a soldier.’ ”
Burden committed to the United States Naval Academy prior to his senior season at Lafayette, before changing his mind and picking Lackawanna. He said staying close to home did not play a big factor in his decision to make Hampton his final choice.
“I’m trying to get in the best spot to get to the NFL, so location didn’t matter, but being close to home will be a benefit,” he said.
Lafayette coach Andy Linn said, “It’s a good choice, because it’s close to home and is a level (Division I Football Championship Subdivision) he can definitely play at.
“Hampton is getting a very good football player to help rebuild that program.”
O’Brien can be reached by phone at 757-247-4963.