The Irreplaceable ‘Slash' Burton

It isn't very often you have a player that has done so much for a football program yet seems to be lost in the shuffle when the fans talk about their team. Yet, that is just what Florida has in senior do-everything Trey Burton. The slot receiver/ running back/ fullback/ tight end/ quarterback literally can do it all for Florida as a skill player. Things would be quite different without Burton.

In three years and one game as a Florida Gator Trey Burton has amassed 665 rushing yards and 16 rushing touchdowns, 600 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns, while also throwing for 99 yards as a quarterback.

Burton lacks the notoriety and a lot of the star-power that comes to a quarterback, running back, or receiver that is the king of their particular position, but his value to this Gator football team is something you probably put a number on. Burton is more than just a plug and play guy that can play anywhere on the field, he has morphed himself into a valued player wherever he lines up and a guy that can turn around and teach whatever position he is playing to the others around him.

"We still used him in the wildcat position in some plays," Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said of Burton on Tuesday. "He's obviously capable of doing that, I think just how he's gone about his approach to becoming a better receiver and understanding. Some of that was conditioning, what the weight room guys have done to him. He's lost some weight, he's playing faster, and I think that's huge.

"Trey's a smart kid, he studies the game and he teaches the game to other kids. You're not always out there just doing something, there are reasons why you run a route this way and he understands that."

His role has changed so much in the four years he has been here while under three coordinators, yet Burton has always just suited up and done what the coaches asked of him. His willingness to be coached is something NFL teams will like from him and is again what makes him invaluable to this team.

"Just staying positive and open and not saying I want to do just this or just that and things like that," Burton said about how he keeps finding himself with big roles for the Gators. "Being accepting to whatever they want you to do."

No matter where Burton lines up he is like having a coach on the field. He knows where everyone is supposed to be and what they are doing in each and every play. This comes from his time as a quarterback both in high school and when he is asked to be one for the Gators.

"Before I came here I was aware of what he did in the Kentucky game when he had all the touchdowns," pease said of Burton's six touchdown performance against the Wildcats as a freshman in 2010. "I was aware he has played quarterback. A lot of the guys that do play quarterback (in high school), end up being receivers or running backs or maybe DB's (in college). But they got the ball in their hands.

"You know where offenses are constantly evolving nowadays. You're trying to find ways to get kids in space and put the ball in their hands. That's kind of what we've done with Trey. Trey was a kid that when I first got here said, ‘coach, here's one of the things I'm good at, I'm comfortable doing but they haven't really done with me a lot.' That's part of what we do. We'll find a way to get that for you, and it fits into the scheme that week. He's willing to do those things. He's smart.

"He's comfortable and knows how to make checks at the line of scrimmage on techniques and where we're designed and where the play's going. He knows how to get us on the right sides. He's adding our flexibility and how much we can add that defenses have to handle what we're going to throw at them.

"One thing with him, I'll tell you on this, in a situation last year and it's been the situation in camp when somebody messes up he lines up at a tight end spot when that's not even his position just to cover up, make sure we got the right formation to make the play work. I mean he's that smart, he sees the whole picture. He sees all 11, what they're doing and where they're going."

Knowing what everyone is doing and being to change on the fly is something Burton first learned at Venice High School.

"In high school I played quarterback," he said. "My quarterback coach did a really good job of teaching me I had to know everybody's position. I basically took that from high school and brought it to college. It's helped me out a lot and helped me get on the field a lot faster than I guess other guys."

He also likes being that extra set of eyes on the field, making sure things go right.

"I try to," he said about being an extra coach on the field. "I feel like all older guys should be able to coach and help the younger guys out because we were there at one time.

Pease would have none of it, but he could see Burton playing defense.

"Sure, I think he's capable of doing that if you need him to," the offensive coordinator said. "He is smart; I mean he's one of the smartest players on our team. It's a different mentality on the defensive side, a kid's gotta have that aggressiveness and I think on the offensive side you're still aggressive but you gotta think a little bit and adjust to a lot of moving parts.

Early on in 2011, Will Muschamp's first year as head coach at Florida, the staff looked to try Burton out on defense. It didn't take long for then offensive coordinator Charlie Weis to realize he needed Burton back on offense.

"I think I practiced just two practices at safety," Burton said of that 2011 preseason. "That was when Coach Weis was coming in and he wanted me to play offense. So I stayed on offense."

"I was open to it. I always liked playing defense. In high school I played defense. I was excited, especially having Coach Muschamp as a coach and just learning from him."

Burton is enjoying playing with junior quarterback Jeff Driskel and with more than two years of working together, they are realizing the cohesiveness needed to make the offense roll better.

"It's pretty important," he said of the relationship between the two. "With the same offense for two years I think that'd be more important, just being on the same page and things like that. It's definitely helped us out. It's helped the whole team out."

As they continue to work, Burton will continue to help his teammates any way he can, coaching them up like he is getting paid to do so. Something he wouldn't mind doing some time down the road.

"I definitely could see myself in the future doing that," he said of the possibility of coaching. "It's definitely something I've looked into and talked to other coaches about. I'm just out there to help the guys and they know I'm open to whatever questions they may have."


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