Fresh off of a fantastic season of football, the East Webster Wolverines saw two players off to the next level last week after helping their team to the best season since 2015.
Head coach Ron Price looked on as his star punter and kicker Parker Burleson and lineman Caleb Massey each signed their names to scholarships to play football on the next level last Wednesday.
Burleson was an All-State special teamer in Class 2A and one of the state’s best specialists regardless of classification. Over the last three years as a starter, Burleson helped change the field game in and game out for the Wolverines and make things difficult for opposing teams.
This past season, Burleson put toe to ball on 70 kickoffs and landed 43 of them in the end zone. More than half of his kicks resulted in teams beginning from their own 25 yard line which made for a more difficult drive.
Burleson also had 40 punts last year for 37.4 average and had 19 downed inside the 20 yard line. He was 48 of 54 on extra points and hit 4 of 7 field goals. The result was a long list of offers from junior colleges around the state and he originally committed to Jones College back during the summer. After taking visits to Northwest Community College, Jones, East Mississippi and Western Kentucky, he got a late scholarship offer from Delta State and that’s where he landed.
“It was tough because I hate to tell people ‘no’,” Burleson said of his recruitment. “JUCO coaches were all so good to me which made it all so tough. I went on a couple of gameday visits to Delta State and it felt like home. They gave me a great offer and it was the place I wanted to be and I needed to be.”
Price is a Delta State alum who had a great experience with the Statesman but he never pushed Burleson in a particular direction. Still, he’d be lying if he wasn’t happy to see him wearing the green and white.
Most importantly, the coach knows that Burleson will play on some great teams and he’ll impact the Fighting Okra in a positive way.
“Over the next four years at some point, he’ll have a chance to compete for a national title,” Price said. “At any level, when you have that kind of opportunity it’s special. I just hope he will enjoy the next four years and he’ll continue to break records. It would be awesome to see him kick the game-winning field goal to give them a national championship.”
Wednesday was Burleson’s day and Friday was reserved for Massey as he announced his intentions to sign with Holmes CC. Massey was the unsung hero for the Wolverines playing both sides of the ball and moving around the offensive line wherever he was needed by Price during the season.
He settled in at guard, but Price said early in the year that he could play tackle or center as well if that’s what he needed to play. While he opened up huge holes for quarterback Steven Betts and running back Tyrik Pittman to run through all year, he also did work on the defensive line without getting much rest.
On defense, Massey had 51 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks and that’s not counting the plays that he made happen for other players by taking on double teams or getting pressure in the backfield.
Quite simply, Massey was as big a part of the offense and defense as anyone in Price’s eyes and he’s proud to see him get a shot on the next level.
“He’s the quarterback of our offensive line. He’s making the calls,” Price said of Massey. “It’s tremendous to have somebody that takes pride of being the leader of any unit, much less the offensive line. Caleb has accepted that role.
“He’s a football player and will do everything that you ask. He’s a coach’s dream and we’re thankful to have him.”