GatorCountry.com continues its series previewing the players who will make up the 2012 Florida Gators football team this season.
Each day, we’ll count off another scholarship player until the Florida football season officially begins Sept. 1 against Bowling Green in The Swamp.
Today, we take a look at junior running back/hybrid Trey Burton.
After being recruited by Steve Addazio, Burton committed to the Gators on July 31, 2008. He chose playing for the Gators over offers from West Virginia, South Florida and Florida Atlantic. Florida State and Miami were also mentioned to have interest in the Venice (Fla.) prospect.
In high school, it was Burton’s ability to be a dual threat that sparked such interest. His ability to make plays with his legs, while still having a strong throwing arm, made him attractive, especially to programs running the spread offense.
Built more as a linebacker, Burton’s physicality, something he has shown in his two years at Florida, was evident during his time in high school.
He was a three-star recruit in the Class of 2010, with Scout.com ranking him as the No. 22 quarterback in the class.
Perhaps even more impressive than his high school numbers, which were solid, as he ran for 28 touchdowns as a junior and threw for 19 more, was his leadership. Florida’s Class of 2010 could have come apart at the seams given the instability of Urban Meyer.
However, Burton worked just as hard as the coaching staff to ensure the guys who committed to Florida stuck it out. That same leadership is something he has shown throughout his time in the program.
At 6-foot-2, 227 pounds, Burton’s quarterback days are mostly finished, although there has been talk he will lead the Gators’ wildcat formations in 2012. Aside from that, his calling card is his versatility.
While some have referred to him as a “jack of all trades, master of none,” Burton will likely still be featured heavily in the offense this season.
He will likely split time at fullback with Hunter Joyer, while also taking snaps at tight end, running back, in the slot and wherever else offensive coordinator Brent Pease feels he can be effective. The amount of motion and misdirection in the offense should benefit Burton.
Last season, he appeared in 13 games, starting seven of them. His numbers this season will probably look about the same.
However, his numbers took a dip in his sophomore season. He had 12 fewer receptions than in his freshman season and his rushing average dipped by more than a yard per carry.
The Florida coaching staff will be hoping Burton can take the next step in his progression this season, offering the team another playmaker. If the Gators are to be successful in 2012, the team will need as many as possible.
What to Expect
Burton certainly has a flair for the dramatic. In 2010, his six total touchdowns against Kentucky set a new Florida record. Prior to him, nobody in the Southeastern Conference had scored six touchdowns in a game since 2003 when Carnell “Cadillac” Williams did it for Auburn against Mississippi State.
Still, Burton has found more than his fair share of critics. Fans and the media note his struggles against the conference’s elite teams: Alabama, LSU and Georgia. He has struggled to produce consistently when Florida needed it the most.
However, fans should not expect him to be the focal point of the offense. Burton’s set of skills makes him someone who can be a guy, not the guy.
It is likely his 2012 numbers will be somewhere between the numbers he put up his first two seasons.
He should be a safety valve for the starting quarterback, a guy that can help pick up third downs and someone who can fight for the extra yard when needed or in the red zone.