It’s an honor presented to senior athletes around the state who display perseverance while overcoming difficulties, and one of the 104 student-athletes awarded this year comes from Corner High School.
Cole Burkett, a Bryant-Jordan region achievement winner in Class 5A, recently received $3,000 toward his college education. He had already signed a baseball scholarship to Stillman College, and represents one of nine Corner players to sign baseball scholarships this spring.
Burkett is a multi-sport athlete at Corner, participating in both football and baseball for the Yellow Jackets. During the fall, he ran routs for head football coach Jon Clements, and in the spring he took his post behind the plate for head baseball coach Josh Hoyle.
According to Hoyle, his senior catcher was the proverbial coach on the field, calling pitches and managing his defense. Burkett, who was diagnosed with Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) as a child, finds the condition to be an actual asset when he’s crouched behind the batter.
Perhaps, it also aided his offense, as Burkett posted a .327 average in what was a COVID-shortened season.
More obstacles were, however, found on the gridiron. He played on both sides—a linebacker on defense and a receiver on offense, but it was a mishap on special teams that landed him two months in a wheelchair and another month on crutches.
It happened during his sophomore season as he held a block on a kickoff return. He sustained a brutal leg injury that others might not have returned from.
He did, and perhaps that’s why he’s a 2020 Bryant-Jordan Scholarship recipient.
This year, in lieu of the banquet which has been held annually since 1986, the Bryant-Jordan Foundation recognized its recipients via television and online streaming, due to coronavirus precautions.
“While we are disappointed to cancel the banquet, we are very thankful that technology will allow us to showcase these incredible student-athletes and announce the overall scholarship recipients via television and on-line viewing,” said Edgar Welden, Chairman and President of the foundation.
Named after legendary coaches Paul “Bear” Bryant and Ralph “Shug” Jordan, the Bryant-Jordan Program annually recognizes 52 senior student-athletes, one from each of the eight AHSAA districts in Classes 1A-6A and one from each of the four districts in Class 7A in two different categories: the Achievement Award and the Scholar-Athlete Award.
Since its inception in 1986, the program has provided more than $10.8 million in scholarship funding distributed to 3,222 students. Burkett is now one of them.