GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Trey Burton has played for two head coaches and worn two numbers at Florida. He has tried to scrape out yards under three offensive coordinators.
A lot has changed in Burton’s time at UF. Still, there has been one constant: Burton’s willingness to do whatever it takes to avoid standing on the sideline.
“Hopefully a little bit of everything,’’ Burton said Tuesday when asked what position he expects to play as a senior.
Did you really expect any other answer from one of 44 players on the Paul Hornung Award watch list to honor the country’s most versatile player?
Burton has reached the point in his career when others refer to him as a veteran, far removed from that six-touchdown game against Kentucky as a freshman. On the current roster, only offensive linemen Jon Halapio, Jon Harrison and Kyle Koehne have played more games for the Gators than Burton’s 38. He has started 22.
Burton has played quarterback, running back, fullback, tight end, receiver and H-back. He is working as the holder on field goals. Burton has played special teams and probably knows enough about Florida’s defense to sneak in for a play or two on that side if needed.
He really has been Mr. Versatile in his three seasons.
Trying to define Burton’s identity has never been easy. Football player seems most appropriate. However, with the Gators in need of receivers, Burton has worked primarily at that position early in camp.
“I’m with [receivers coach] Joker Phillips a lot, so that's good," Burton said.
Burton’s most productive season came as a freshman when he rushed for 349 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also caught 32 passes for 210 yards and a touchdown. Those numbers dropped significantly as a sophomore when Burton was under utilized in Charlie Weis’ one season as UF’s offensive coordinator.
When Brent Pease arrived prior to Burton’s junior season, Burton’s touches didn’t go up but his production did. He averaged career highs for yards per rush (6.6) and per catch (9.6).
Besides his six-touchdown game against Kentucky in 2010, Burton’s signature moment for the Gators came in last year’s 37-20 win at Tennessee. Burton’s 80-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter shifted momentum to the Gators and they parlayed his run into the game’s final 24 points.
Burton’s has only 37 receptions the past two seasons but his role in the passing game could increase as the Gators search for dependable hands and playmakers for Jeff Driskel to throw to.
“The guy we forget about is Trey Burton,” Florida coach Will Muschamp said. “He's going to be in the slot for us and does a lot for us there. We obviously will have a Trey Burton [wildcat] package, which was very effective for us last year.”
So, you could see Burton line up at receiver some, then take a snap here and there out of the shotgun, perhaps line up in the backfield occasionally.
In other words, a little bit of everywhere.
Wherever he plays, Burton will likely have the ball in his hands a few times each game. That is the way he wants it.
He expects the offense to be a “lot smoother” in the second year under Pease.
“The second year in any offense is going to be better,’’ Burton said. “A lot of guys know the stuff, what to do and where to go.”
The “where” is usually the only question for Burton.