With Burton and Hines, UF has versatility
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Both have played multiple roles and worn multiple numbers in their time with the Gators.
Trey Burton has moved around more than an Army brat the past two seasons. He has lined up at quarterback, running back, receiver, tight end and fullback. Burton has also played on special teams. Burton’s career highlight is a good one: a six-touchdown performance against Kentucky as a true freshman two years ago.
In that same game against the Wildcats, Burton’s only pass was a 42-yard completion to Omarius Hines, another player who has spent time moving around to different spots on Florida’s offense.
Hines has played tight end and receiver, but he requested a move to running back in the spring and expects to be used in various roles in his final season. The same goes for Burton, a junior.
In first-year offensive coordinator Brent Pease’s offense, Burton and Hines are what Pease labels an F-back. The position includes some running back, some receiver, some tight end and some of whatever else they can do to help Florida win games.
Burton is fine with his role being defined by his versatility.
“I’ll do whatever Coach Pease asks,’’ Burton said. “I just want to play.”
Burton (6-foot-3, 227 pounds) and Hines (6-2, 223) are big enough to play on the line of scrimmage and athletic enough to come out of the backfield or line up in the slot. Their versatility is something Florida coach Will Muschamp hopes to use to the Gators’ advantage.
Pease’s pro-style offensive scheme adds a bonus element in utilizing versatile players like Burton and Hines because of a heavy emphasis on shifts and motion that can help create mismatches when the ball is snapped.
“Trey can do a lot of things,’’ Muschamp said. “He’s hard for a defensive coordinator … how do you count him? So it’s very difficult for a defense to look at it. Same thing for Omarius Hines. What is he? That’s where you have some issues from a defensive standpoint. How do you count this guy?”
Burton’s best season was as a freshman when he rushed for 349 yards and 11 touchdowns, often taking snaps at quarterback in the wildcat formation. He also caught 32 passes for 210 yards. Burton’s numbers dropped off to 125 yards rushing and 19 receptions a year ago as he never seemed to find a home in Charlie Weis’ offense.
Neither did Hines, who only caught seven passes and had one rush in 12 games. The previous season Hines finished with 20 receptions and chipped in 152 yards rushing. Peases is impressed the way Hines has looked in camp, including a 61-yard touchdown run in a scrimmage.
“He’s very versatile. He’s a kid that, when the ball is in his hands, he can go the distance,’’ Pease said. “He can create the huge, explosive plays. He can go 75, 80 yards because he’s got the other gear. He’s got ability to catch, got ability to run, he’s got strength. He’s a threat. He’s a weapon.”
While the Gators’ coaching staff has spoken with confidence about the backfield — led by No. 1 tailback Mike Gillislee — coaches are pushing the receivers to produce more in practice. The presence of Burton and Hines helps alleviate some of the concerns at receiver since they figure to factor prominently in the passing game.
“They do create mismatches, so we will get them the ball and now they got to make plays,” he said. “Omarius is different because he’s got the ability to be a running back, a tight end, a receiver. Trey’s got the ability to be a running back, receiver, kind of a wing-back/ H-back type guy, [and] quarterback.
“They’re going to have some stuff on their plate knowing some positions. We didn’t have a guy like that really at Boise State.”
Tight end Clay Burton, Trey’s younger brother, has seen enough of the offense in fall camp to believe the Gators will cause opposing defenses trouble with their multiple threats.
“I don’t know how other teams are going to game plan for us,’’ Clay Burton said. “I wouldn’t want to be a defensive player and have to line up on one side and then just because one person plays we have to shift everything. I think it’s actually probably one of the best offensives I’ve seen.”
There are a lot of questions about what Pease’s offense will look like that won’t be answered until the season opener against Bowling Green. But based on what Muschamp and Pease have said recently, expect to see Hines and Burton on the field.
They fit the description of the kind of players Pease likes in the multi-purpose F-back role.
“I’m going to tell you this: We’re not just sticking anybody out there that looks pretty and can run,’’ Pease said. “They better go out there and perform; they better catch balls and block. If you came here thinking, ‘I was labeled this, labeled that,’ you might not see some people.
“You go out there and you make plays — that’s the bottom line at this position. We don’t want any Terrell Owens guys.”