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Texas WR John Burt has big and burgeoning football and track dreams

College football stardom? Olympic track glory? The future is at the fingertips of the remarkable sophomore.

Kansas v Texas Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

On Tuesday evening, as Oregon Ducks wide receiver Devon Allen chased gold in the 110-meter hurdles in Rio at the Summer Olympics, Texas Longhorns wide receiver John Burt cast a wistful gaze southward.

You see, Burt wants to be where Allen is in four years — competing for his country against the best hurdlers in the world.

Last week, the sophomore admitted that it wasn’t realistic to expect to have a shot at competing for this games with so little prep time out of high school and so much work left to do, but he’s already thinking about and preparing for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

And after becoming one of two freshman to make the NCAA Championships in the event this year, it’s still a lofty goal, but one that increasingly looks attainable.

When the Tallahassee Lincoln product ended up recommitting to Texas late in the 2015 recruiting cycle after flirting seriously with the Auburn Tigers, his track future was a side note as his football future loomed brighter following a senior season that showed serious growth as a wide receiver.

Then Burt ran a personal-best 13.56 110-meter hurdles as a senior at Lincoln, which would have finished second in the 5A UIL state track meet to Kendall Sheffield that year, a notable accomplishment since Sheffield was a nationally-recognized hurdler.

Burt did so even though he competed in numerous other events, too, including the high jump, which he won in the state of Florida, and the 100, 200, 300 hurdles, 400 relay, and the triple jump.

Yet, even after Burt led the ‘Horns with 457 receiving yards last season, his track season was hardly highly anticipated.

No matter — there was Burt running a 13.98 on the higher collegiate hurdles at the Big 12 Outdoor Track and Field Championship to finish in second place.

There was Burt qualifying for the NCAA Track and Field Championship after running a personal-best 13.91 in Lawrence several weeks later.

He just keeps getting faster and faster, driven by the competitive nature that defines all great athletes.

In 2016, the automatic qualifying standard to make the US men’s Olympics team in the 110m hurdles was 13.52 seconds, a full .4 faster than his current personal best and well behind the 13.38 that Allen ran in Eugene. Want to count Burt out, though?

Just consider where he was two years ago and where he’ll be four years for now.

But other than paying attention to the performance of Allen and Burt’s Texas teammates down in Brazil, it’s time to focus on his sophomore football season on the gridiron.

Burt will embark upon it following an impressive performance in the Orange and White game this spring that included a 66-yard touchdown catch echoing his 69-yard touchdown catch against Kansas and 84-yard touchdown catch against Kansas.

In new offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert’s system, the aggressive approach to calling downfield passes will help showcase the rising track star.

“I like how a lot of the routes are vertical,” Burt said last week. “A guy with my speed likes to get down the field so that's one of the things I really like about this new offense. It gets a lot of our different playmakers the ball. I really feel like this offense is really going to be something to look forward to.”

There are still question marks about whether senior Tyrone Swoopes or freshman Shane Buechele will win the starting job at quarterback, but there’s no question that Burt will be a favored target whether it is Swoopes or Buechele who wins.

Burt will fill that role as a better football player than he was last season because of his track experience as a freshman, even though it limited his football reps during spring practice.

“Even in the spring while I was still running track, I could already feel that I was faster on the field when running my routes and that sort of thing,” Burt said. “Yeah, I think track really helped me in that area.”

That’s a scary thought for opposing defenses and a heartening thought for the chances of Burt becoming one of the breakout wide receivers in college football this season and perhaps even a future Olympian in 2020.