Turning big gains into touchdowns is a skill that separates average college football players from the great ones and Texas Longhorns freshman wide receiver John Burt is increasingly showing the skills to be a great one.
The latest evidence came in the form of his 84-yard touchdown catch against the Kansas Jayhawks last Saturday, his second reception of 69 yards or more this season.
Burt now has 19 receptions for 376 yards on the season and added another touchdown catch Saturday that went for 19 yards on a simple hitch he turned and bounced outside for the score.
The most impressive play of the game for him was certainly the long touchdown catch, which didn't look especially high on the level of difficult scale until given some extra scrutiny.
"You know, John Burt, the play he made, I think it's as impressive him going up and making a competitive catch and to come down and not go down," play caller Jay Norvell said Tuesday.
Speed and balance are two skills possessed by most high-level wide receivers and Burt's unique track background has ensured that he has both. As a senior, Burt won both the 110-meter high hurdle event and the high jump in Florida. His high hurdles time of 13.56, his personal best, would have been good enough to place fourth last year at the Texas state track meet at the 6A level and bested the 13.92 run by current teammate Holton Hill in that event.
After he signed with Texas, Burt touted his track ability as beneficial to his work on the football field.
"The overall speed, agility and coordination aspect that it takes to run hurdles at a competitive level helps," Burt told Horns247. "Having to have the coordination to stay low and bring your leg through and stay balanced to keep you speed up plays a part on the field."
Norvell definitely saw a lot of those same benefits contributing to Burt's big play against the Jayhawks.
"To keep his balance, you know he's a high hudle champ and so those are some of the most special athletes you can find, the guys that run full speed and go over high hurldes and that's kind of what he did," Norvell said. "He went up and got the ball with a guy draped over him and he kept his balance and finished and it just shows how special of an athlete he is. Really confident -- we need him to play that way."