Bobby Orr and Luke Severt were two of around 40 Phi Delta Theta brothers watching St. Louis wide receiver Luther Burden’s commitment ceremony livestream in their house living room Tuesday night.
Outside, another 40-50 people watched through the window, eager for what might very well be the most exciting moment of the Missouri football season.
The group waited with bated breath as 6 p.m. — the time Burden said he’d make his announcement — came and went. In a video that now has 33.9 thousand views on Twitter, the group of Phi Delts are seen on the edge of their seats, some even rubbing each other’s shoulders.
“I feel like I had a gut feeling that it was gonna be us, but then I don’t know,” Severt said. “When he sat down in front of the Mizzou hat and then obviously, like when he first picked up the other two, that’s when I knew that it was gonna be Mizzou.”
The tension only increased when Burden sat down at the table, and then picked up the Georgia and Alabama hats, turning them toward himself in contemplative fashion. In the Phi Delt house, Orr shouted “Throw ‘em,” and others followed suit, erupting into screams and cheers when that’s exactly what the high school senior did.
Burden, a five-star recruit who’s played at both Cardinal Ritter and now East St. Louis high school, announced his commitment to Missouri on Tuesday night, sparking a Twitter-timeline worth of reaction commentary and videos from Tiger fans.
While MU coach Eliah Drinkwitz can’t speak publicly about committed players before they’ve signed their letters of intent, the Missouri football account joined in the social media celebration last night by sharing two videos.
The first was Drinkwitz making the net on a pop-a-shot rig swish before turning to the camera and saying “Shooters shoot.” The second was a video of the MU football program staff watching Burden’s live stream and reacting in real time, similar to the video from the Phi Delt house.
“Honestly, I didn’t think Mizzou had a chance,” Orr said. “Just the two other schools are Blue Bloods in college football. I thought that he’d want to go and win a national championship at a place that is constantly in the college football playoffs.”
Even Allen Trieu, a Midwest recruiting reporter for 247 Sports, told the Missourian he was unsure which school Burden would end up choosing. His crystal ball prediction had been Missouri, and being wrong about a high-profile recruit like Burden would have looked bad.
Trieu cited Drinkwitz’s direct involvement in recruiting efforts and dedication to recruiting in-state players as big reasons Burden likely committed to his home-state team.
Over 35 schools offered Burden, who originally committed to Oklahoma before opening his recruitment back up Aug. 17. Burden visited Missouri on Oct. 9 and Georgia on Oct. 16.
“It was such a close race between Mizzou and Georgia that had the staff not done their part correctly, and had they not given them a chance to come in and compete early and had some of those guys like Lovett not flourish, it would have been really easy for this kid to pick Georgia or another school,” Trieu said.
Orr, Severt and their Phi Delta Theta brothers witnessed the authenticity they think must have appealed to Burden when Drinkwitz paid a visit to their house in the week following MU’s loss to Tennessee.
The fraternity and the coach had made a deal: if the Phi Delts came to watch Drinkwitz’s Tiger Talk Show at Cheerleader Grill, he would pay them a visit. Orr’s not really sure how it happened; he thinks one of the members got Drinkwitz’s phone number.
“He’s a huge person in at the school and in the state and in the country,” Severt said. “Being a (Southeastern Conference) head coach, he’s making millions of dollars, but if you’re in the same room with him, you would never think that. He doesn’t seem like a big shot or somebody who has better things to do.”
Missouri’s season thus far has been less than desirable, but it has demonstrated that its second-year coach is unafraid to play young players. Freshman Dominic Lovett and redshirt freshman Mookie Cooper, both also from St. Louis, have helped lead the Tiger receiving group, combining for 34 receptions and 291 yards.
Burden joins a Missouri recruiting class of 2022 that is ranked No. 14 in the nation by 247 Sports. The class has 15 recruits now, with Burden the only five-star. There are six four-stars and eight three-stars.
Quarterback Sam Horn from Suwanee, Georgia, and Deshawn Woods of Omaha, Nebraska, are two of the other high-profile recruits in the class.
“I think these guys have a real chance to make an impact,” Trieu said. “Obviously when you look at Missouri on the field they’re pretty young. They’ve been willing to play young guys. I don’t think that’s gonna stop. I do think that they’re bringing in, generally speaking, a higher quality of recruit than they had in the past, so you would expect those kids to come in and add talent to the roster and be able to make an impact.”
Tuesday was a joyous moment for many Missouri fans during a much-needed bye week for the Tigers. MU has yet to earn an SEC win. Burden’s commitment provided a brief glimpse of sun in what has been a gloomy, overcast fall.
“In a football season where our on-field performance has had very few big moments where everybody’s like going crazy celebrating with each other, I feel like this kind of filled that void a little bit if that makes sense,” Severt said.
Burden will be an early enrollee at Missouri and move to campus in January.