By Jeffery Armstrong
When current North Clayton High quarterback Morgan Burnett was a child, he would go to the high school practice field and watch his older brother Cap Burnett play.
When Cap was at North Clayton (1995-97), he was one of the Eagles' stars, garnering the Clayton News-Daily Defensive Player of the Year honor in 1997.
Cap went on to the University of Georgia where he lettered from 1999-2002.
Years later, Morgan is one of North Clayton's standout players who's helped lead the Eagles to a 2-0 record this season. Burnett credits his older brother with setting the foundation for his good play right now.
"Cap's always been a role model to me," said Burnett. "I used to love coming here and watching him practice. I couldn't wait to grow up and play football for North Clayton."
Burnett is certainly playing now, rushing and passing for four touchdowns combined in victories over Riverdale and Lovejoy. Burnett also returned a fumble 37 yards for a touchdown from his safety position against Riverdale.
While Morgan outplays his big brother at quarterback (Cap didn't cut it at that position), he pales in comparison to him at the safety position, according to North Clayton head coach Don Shockley.
"Morgan will get there at safety, but he's not on Cap's level yet. Cap struck fear in people when he played safety here," Shockley said. "He was like [former San Francisco 49ers safety] Ronnie Lott out there. He would play and hit so hard that sometimes he would knock himself out of games."
Shockley also said Cap was big on special teams.
"On kickoff and punt returns, Cap would hit a seam at full speed and he'd be gone," Shockley said. "One team kicked to him three times in a game and he burned them three times."
But Shockley is the first to admit that Morgan is playing at an extremely high level right now, maybe even better than Cap.
"If Morgan was a senior this year, he'd definitely be a Division I prospect," said Shockley. "And the great thing about him is that he's a team player n he wants the team to do well more than anything."
Morgan, 15, said the reason he has a team-first attitude is because of what he was told to him by Cap, 23.
"He's always told me to work hard, stay humble and to play as a team," Morgan said. "That was drilled into me the very first time I started playing."
And with Cap being a hard-hitting safety, he didn't take it too easy on his baby brother. Morgan was often drilled when the two would play football together.
"He was tough on me. If he hit me and I would cry about it, Cap would tell me to just get up and stop crying," Morgan said. "That's why I can take hits now."
Cap is also proud of Morgan, but he doesn't let him get too egotistical about his great play so far.
"He praises me for having good games, but he tells me there's always room for improvement," said Morgan.
Morgan and Cap are very close and Morgan said he isn't trying to be a better player than his brother was.
"It would be hard to do what he did. I'm just trying to be myself, get the job done and win as a team," Morgan said.