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August 27, 2012

Gator Bytes: Burton Florida's X-Factor



FLORIDA FOOTBALL GAME WEEK: Depth Chart Released - ITG position-by-position breakdown | Wide outs are contrasts in consistency | Saturday's quarterback rotation set | Live Press Conference Tidbits

Trey Burton came to Florida to play quarterback.

He has. Occasionally.

He might even see some snaps behind center again this fall.

Regardless, Burton is no longer a quarterback.

In 2010, former Gators coach Urban Meyer approached Burton early in the freshman's initial practices on campus and asked the then duel-threat quarterback if he'd be willing to change positions for immediate playing time.

The now jack-of-all-trades didn't hesitate to say yes -- even though he admitted he came to UF expecting to be a permanent quarterback.

"I just didn't want to sit," Burton explained Monday. "That was the main [motivation]. That was the main reason Urban and I had that talk. I'm really happy with where I'm at now, and I love it."

Despite playing in three systems - Meyer's, Charlie Weis' and now Brent Pease's - in as many seasons, Burton has managed to remain involved without a defined position.

Earlier this fall, flexible senior Omarius Hines labeled himself Trey Burton 2.0 -- only faster and stronger -- but the original model is still around, and Burton said he's ready to seize whatever opportunity is in front of him.

Although expectations skyrocketed after his six-touchdown explosion against Kentucky in 2010, the junior has proven to be a valuable commodity in a struggling, ever-transitioning Gators offense.

After a sophomore campaign with decreased production, the X-factor label disappeared, but Burton remains Florida's most productive returning playmaker.

Burton's 16 career touchdowns are the most on the Gators, and if you take away his outburst versus the Wildcats, only Jordan Reed -- with 11, and three as a passer -- has more career total touchdowns.

Despite tempered prospects, Burton has continued to demonstrate a commanding leadership role (see: recruiting efforts) and anticipates contributing all over the field in Pease's new motion offense.

During his first two seasons at UF, the junior tallied snaps at five positions - quarterback, running back, tight end, fullback and receiver -- while playing various roles on special teams.

Expect more of the same this season, he said.

"I'm just trying to get on the field. Whatever they need me to do, I'll do it." With a high football IQ -- Muschamp said Burton's intelligence is his greatest attribute -- the junior has had little problems adjusting to a foreign system each off-season.

Burton says learning concepts has never been an issue for him as he still sees every play -- no matter where he's lining up -- through a quarterback's lense. He credited his high school position coach, who played at Auburn, with instilling the requisite to learn and adapt quickly.

According to Burton, he came to Florida with college-based knowledge already, something that's allowed him to focus seamlessly on multiple roles.

Senior teammate Frankie Hammond Jr. concurred, saying Florida's third offensive system in three years has actually been a rare advantage for Burton because he's never played just a single position and is used to constantly learning new concepts.

"He is a versatile kind of guy," Hammond said. "You can put him anywhere, and he can play well. He's important for this offense."

Muschamp praised Burton, saying, "Football just comes very easy to him. He sees the big picture. He understands that part of it. You can verbalize an awful lot with him that maybe you can't with other guys. He just takes to the game very well, so you're able to put him in a lot of different spots and you get where you term 'rep' guys. Well, rep guys, they've got to rep it over and over. Trey's not. He's a guy you can verbalize and say, 'Remember, here, this is what we want.' He understands that part of it, which helps in special team, helps on offense, helps in a lot of areas."

Gators Bytes: Hammond Jr. and Burton both commented on expectations for 2012 and the desire to get Florida back to Atlanta.

Hammond Jr.: "That's not what we came here for last year, 7-6. We want to get back on top. We came here to win, and that's the bottom line. We came here to win championships and get rings. That's the standard here at the university. We definitely have a chip on our shoulder."

Burton: "You'll always remember it. Even when I'm 40, I'll always remember my sophomore year at Florida. You have to keep that in the back of your mind and strive for it to not happen again." Senior linebacker Jonathan Bostic said it's important for Florida to start fast on Saturday to set the tone for the rest of the year. He said the defense aims to be the best in the nation, tops in every defensive category.

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