Trey Burton burst onto the scene during his freshman season in Gainesville. After setting a school record with a six-touchdown game against Kentucky, he was built up as the next big thing after Tim Tebow. A dynamic threat, whose versatility allows him to play multiple positions, including quarterback, let the praise and attention to get to his head.
As the former Florida wide receiver is set to embark on his NFL career, he admits he wasn’t equipped to handle the success immediately.
“My biggest disappointment was my personal inexperience in handling off the field issues,” Burton told FOXSports.com in a telephone interview. “I needed to weed out the bad influences in my life.
“My sophomore year was a complete wreck. That year, I was really considering leaving and starting all over. Personally the things I let happen and the things that I was doing. I wasn’t happy with myself. I believe I wasn’t doing the right thing and I wanted to get a new start and lose all of the bad people that I met. I just wanted to be the real me because I know who I am.”
Burton decided to stay at Florida because his younger brother Clay Burton was joining the team the following season.
The 6-foot-2, 233-pound wide receiver was humbled and spent the last few seasons focused on perfecting his technique as an offensive weapon. While he has ambitions of making the leap into the NFL as a slot wide receiver, he is more than willing to play wherever the team who selects him deems necessary.
During his days at Florida, Burton played a lot of roles, including Wildcat quarterback, running back, wide receiver, fullback and tight end. Although his priorities were shuffled early in his career, his preparation never wavered.
“I felt like I always prepared as well as I could, but I think the majority of it was my inner self and getting cocky,” Burton said. “I was working pretty hard, but it was more of me getting cocky and losing sight of my faith that I have in the Lord and it was really the darkest points of my life.”
Burton, 22, was originally recruited to play quarterback in Urban Meyer’s spread offense. When Meyer decided to step away from the Gators, incoming head coach Will Muschamp employed an offense that was more traditional and fit the skillset of drop-back passer John Brantley. Coaches approached Burton about a position change since his athleticism was apparent.
“The thing I enjoy about football the most is the competition,” Burton said. “I like seeing guys like Richard Sherman, who has all that heart. Call it what you want, but he has heart. It’s real. It’s genuine. It’s authentic and not fake. That’s kind of how I am. I let that go after my freshman year because I got caught up in all that stuff and I lost my heart and passion for the game. I’m just excited to get back to it and play again.”
While Florida finished with a 4-8 record in 2013, Burton’s beyond-his-years wisdom allowed him to find benefits to the adversity.
“Even though last year didn’t turn out the way it was supposed to be, I learned a lot,” Burton said. “I really took advantage of losing.”
Over the last four years, Burton experienced growth away from the football field, too. He married his wife Yesenia in December and embraced the role of playing dad with his year-old daughter, Ariella.
“My dad left when I was two weeks old,” Burton said. “I never had a dad growing up. I’ve always wanted to have a child. Now that I have my daughter, I’m never going to let her experience what I had to go through. It definitely gave me some motivation.”
Burton remains committed to exceeding the expectations of NFL personnel and talent evaluators at the league’s Scouting Combine next week. Days are spent working on the 40-yard dash, plyometric workouts and trying to plan for the interview process with the teams.
After attending some classes led by communication expert Steve Shenbaum, Burton is confident that he’ll ace that part of the combine.
“He teaches you different ways on how to answer questions,” Burton said. “He discusses how to think about the question, how to react to it and how to respond. It’s small, simple things that make the interview process go much smoother.”
Without any regrets, Burton is extremely humbled after his time in Gainesville and devotes his life to his family and Christian faith.
“I know that everything happens for a reason,” Burton said.