Not many accomplished athletes boast career paths quite as unique as former St. John's Prep football standout Jake Burt.
After shining in Danvers for four seasons, the physically imposing Burt stayed close to home by committing to another Eagles' program: Division 1 Boston College. Although he battled significant injuries (including two torn ACLs) throughout his time in Chestnut Hill, the versatile weapon worked tirelessly to make his presence felt. He wrapped up his 2019 senior campaign with career-highs in receptions (15) and receiving yards (212) while scoring his second collegiate touchdown.
But unlike most college athletes, Burt wasn't ready to give up playing the game he loved.
Sunday afternoon, the 6-foot-3, 260-pound tight end signed an undrafted free agent deal with the New England Patriots. Nearly a decade after his debut at the Prep, Burt's career has come full circle as he's now reached the highest level of competition without straying far from home.
"I took over as head coach (at St. John's Prep) heading into Jake's senior year; he was one of my first captains," recalled SJP head coach Brian St. Pierre. "He was our best player at the time and I certainly have fond memories of him. I think what's most impressive is he tore his ACL twice in college and continued to fight through it and battle back. So I'm just really happy for him. He's a great kid, comes from a great family and I'm just really pumped for him."
While Burt was unavailable for comment following the signing on Sunday, his agent, Sean Stellato, was eager and happy to speak on his behalf.
According to Stellato, Burt's three-year deal comes with $80,000 in guaranteed money, one of the highest totals for any undrafted tight end in this year's class. He's now one of five tight ends on the Patriots' current roster that also includes recent third-round draft picks Dalton Keene (Virginia Tech), Devin Asiasi (UCLA) as well as veterans Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo.
"Jake's skillset and traits are really a testament to his grit and grind through the years and I think the Patriots have a rare ability to go after high-caliber, talented kids that fly under the radar. So it was just a great fit," said Stellato. "We grew up very close to each other so for me to be able to deliver and move this thing forward not only for him, but for all Massachusetts high school football players who have that vision and dream to play in the NFL, is awesome.
"What are the odds of being at St. John's Prep, then Boston College and now playing for your hometown (professional) team? It's pretty remarkable and I'm very excited for him."
As a senior at SJP, Burt hauled in 23 catches with seven touchdowns and was considered one of the top red zone targets in all of Eastern Mass. He was also a terrific blocker, both in the pass and run game, and continued to improve that asset at BC.
Burt missed the entirety of the 2016 season, his sophomore year at BC, but redshirted the following fall and finished on a high note this past season. Following his farewell collegiate campaign, Stellato says Burt trained diligently with Eric Kaloyanides at Woburn's Athletic Evolution before getting work in with Ron Jones down in Florida. The additional tutelage prepared him for what proved to be a wildly impressive virtual pro day, something the Patriots clearly took note of.
Burt will undoubtedly battle for a spot with the other four New England tight ends, but if the trajectory of his career up to this point is any indication of what's to come, it would be wise not to bet against the former North Shore standout.
Nick Giannino can be reached at NGiannino@Salemnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @NickGiannino_SN.