After working out with Kansas State football players all summer, he took a step back to the high school ranks where everyone is a little bit slower and the quarterbacks put a lot less zip on their passes.
“The quarterbacks we have at Kansas State have really mastered their craft,” Burton said. “Collin Klein, Daniel Sams, Tavarius Bender, those guys throw very well. It was a little different for me adjusting to a wider thrown ball, maybe an under-thrown ball, but it made me better.”
Though Burton was the most targeted receiver in the Kansas all-star game, the Wildcats freshman didn’t see a quality throw all night. He managed to catch three passes for 19 yards, but he spent most of the game leaping and diving all over the place for poorly thrown balls or watching them go way over his head.
But here’s the impressive thing about Burton: He still managed to show off his talent.
The 6-foot-2, 200-pound Manhattan product not only looked like the top receiver on the field, he looked like the most athletic receiver out there, too. He saw action as a kick returner, and amassed 127 all-purpose yards that gave his team’s offense good field position.
Fellow incoming freshman receiver Collin Sexton, a walk-on from Abilene and the younger brother of Curry Sexton, wasn’t surprised.
“He’s a good leader, he’s got great work ethic and he’s a great athlete,” Sexton said. “He’s so shifty and quick. I expect a lot of good things out of him.”
Burton displayed his shiftiness with a spin move that led to a 24-yard punt return in the first half and later showed off his speed by running down a kickoff that was intentionally booted away from him and bringing it out 21 yards. He also looked good running the ball on misdirection plays by finishing with 44 rushing yards on three carries.
About the only thing he did poorly was throw. Burton tossed an interception after putting way too much air under the ball on a trick play.
“I enjoy all facets of the game,” Burton said. “A lot of prime players are good at one position and they overlook the special teams aspect of it. I want to help every team I’m on in every way that I can. If that’s returning kicks, blocking punts, catching passes … I am willing to do anything.”
Burton will continue to be asked to contribute in many areas at K-State. Wildcats coach Bill Snyder values special teams play as much as any other coach in the business, and encourages all of his players to participate in them.
Though Burton is unlikely to crack the starting lineup as a receiver in his first season (he expects to start on “the third or fourth string” behind returners Chris Harper, Tyler Lockett, Tramaine Thompson, Curry Sexton and Torell Miller) he could find his way onto the field for kickoffs and punts as well as running the occasional route.
Burton says he hasn’t discussed the possibility of taking a redshirt with K-State coaches, and is focused on the season ahead.
“I’m behind guys like Lockett and Tramaine. Those guys have ungodly speed. My job right now is to make those guys work harder and stay behind them and keep pushing them,” Burton said. “But if the opportunity comes, I will be ready.
“A lot of freshmen want to sit back and learn the system, but I want to get out on the field and make as many plays as I can to really help our team win, because I don’t see why the Kansas State Wildcats can’t win it all.”
We won’t know how much of a role Burton will play with K-State until the season starts, but the Wildcats won’t be afraid to play him if he proves himself. Remember, Lockett was one of the team’s biggest playmakers last year as a true freshman.
Burton reports to preseason training camp Wednesday. He can hardly wait.
“I am very excited and a little nervous at the same time,” Burton said. “I’ve heard camp is no joke. Two practices every day with long meetings in between. It will take hard work, but I’m very ready to participate. It will be nice to live out a dream like that, and I’m going to put everything I’ve got into it.”