By: Shauni Lynch
Clay Burton wears No. 88 for the Gators and has become a staple for Florida with his hard work and blocking skills.
Burton came from Venice high school where he was a three-star prospect and No. 35 ranked linebacker. He excelled on defense and had offers from LSU, Tennessee, West Virginia, Florida State and many others. He originally committed to Notre Dame during his recruiting process but after a phone call from Florida, Burton de-committed from the Irish and signed with Florida as a strong defensive player.
He joined his older brother, Trey Burton, in Gainesville and began his journey as a Florida Gator. He was enrolled in January 2011 and eventually moved to the other side of the ball and became Florida’s best blocking tight end.
As a true freshman, Burton made his Florida debut at tight end against UAB. Throughout the 2011 season, this was the only game he appeared in and recorded no stats.
Burton was being utilized as a strong blocking tight end that had great pass protection and was a solid run blocker. In 2012, Burton saw action in all 12 games and started half of them. He recorded two catches at six yards a piece during the Kentucky and Vanderbilt game.
The Gators used Burton more during his junior season (2013). He appeared in all 12 games once again and started in nine of them at tight end. He recorded his most notable and longest reception against Florida State for a career-long 12 yards. In addition to that, Burton also had a catch for a two-point conversion against Georgia.
After his junior season and in preparation for his final season as part of the Orange and Blue, Burton stepped his game up. The 6’4” 250-pound tight end put in a lot of work during the offseason with the arrival of offensive coordinator, Kurt Roper. Burton became familiar with the JUGS machine and caught perfect passes all across the field in order to become more of a receiver than a blocker.
The opportunity for Burton to be Florida’s top tight end became even more urgent when tight end Jake McGee went out for the season with a broken leg. His priority on offense became more than just blocking, it became about catching the ball and gaining yards. In the season opening 65-0 victory against Eastern Michigan, Burton recorded seven catches for 42 yards, more than doubling his statistics for his previous three years at Florida. This game marked an important part in Burton’s career, as he now became a key player on offense. Burton has logged receptions in five games his senior season. He recorded two catches for 14 yards against Kentucky, one reception for five yards against Tennessee, and two catches for 10 yards in the Missouri game. Burton had another stellar performance against Alabama where he registered three receptions for 33 yards and a career-long 18-yard catch.
Burton wraps up his time at Florida as a tight end who has proven himself as a strong player over the years. For a player who thought he would be tackling players instead of catching balls, Burton has made an incredible impact on the Florida Gators.