The future at quarterback

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With all the talk about Florida quarterbacks this week, I felt it only appropriate to talk about the future of the position – the distant future.

Chances are, if Tim Tebow stays for his senior year, there won’t be much of an impact from any of the other signal-callers on the team. Now, if he leaves and Cameron Newton’s legal issues don’t work out in his favor, then John Brantley takes the reins with 2009 commit Jordan Reed sitting behind him. Basically, if Tebow jets for the NFL and Newton is no longer with the team, the position that possessed a great deal of depth, now looks like the one with the most issues.

But fear not Gator fans, all is not lost. Brantley has shown signs of becoming a solid college quarterback and Reed is one of the more athletic quarterbacks in the country right now. Besides, Newton’s situation is far from resolved. But there is a potential star at quarterback-in-the-making waiting in the wings. He started off his career as a running back, but Venice star Trey Burton could one day be a special player in Urban Meyer’s offense.

“Burton has only been a quarterback for a few years, but in that time he has proven to not only be one of the best quarterbacks in the state but probably in the Southeast,” Rivals.com writer Adam Gorney said.

He’s not the biggest guy, but he’s still only a junior. At 6-foot-3 and 200-220 pounds, Burton certainly doesn’t strike fear into the hearts of his opponents when he steps onto the field. Plus, he’s got this All-American smile and addresses everyone, including this college writer, with a polite “sir” when answering questions. What defensive player wouldn’t want to get a shot on this kid? The problem is, no one can seem to catch him.

On the season, Burton has passed for 1,399 yards on 80-of-133 passing and has 12 touchdowns and just three interceptions. He’s equally as dangerous on the ground with 137 carries for 919 yards and 24 touchdowns. He might also be a great running threat. Until his sophomore season Burton was a tailback.

He’s led his team to back-to-back district championships and this season has his team 11-0 and just romped 35-14 in the first round of the playoffs. Burton alone accounted for all five of Venice’s touchdowns – all rushing.

“He’s had a lot of success this season but continues to have a level head and he’s an incredibly diligent worker,” Gorney said. “Burton will even tell you how much he has improved since last year. Plus, (offensive coordinator Jon Cooley) at Venice played at Auburn and having that expense around him is invaluable.”

I doubted Burton’s ability and stature when I first saw him at one of UF’s camps over the summer. He didn’t blow anyone away with his arm or mechanics, but what he did do was listen. When I saw him again at Friday Night Lights, he looked like a brand new quarterback. He was one of the top overall quarterbacks there and even out-dueled Reed head-to-head. When asked what he had done in the short weeks between his first camp and FNL, Burton just said he listened to the UF coaches and tried to work on everything and only what they told him to.

“It’s not what I learn, it’s what I need to keep doing,” Burton said back in July. “This is only my second year of playing quarterback, so I need to keep throwing the ball and keep working on my form and everything.”

As long as he keeps doing what he’s doing, he should be competing for a little playing time by the time he gets to Gainesville.