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Texas WR John Burt quits track to focus on football

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The former hurdler had a rough 2016 season on the gridiron.

NCAA Football: Notre Dame at Texas Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports

New Texas Longhorns head coach Tom Herman will have junior wide receiver John Burt available for all of spring practice this season, as the university confirmed to the Austin American-Statesman on Tuesday that Burt will no longer run track.

For the last two seasons, the Florida native was a 110-meter hurdler for the track team, finishing second in the Big 12 and becoming one of only two freshmen to participate in the 2016 NCAA national championships in 2016.

However, the time spent focused on track kept Burt from practicing much for former head coach Charlie Strong last spring.

Perhaps as a result, Burt was unable to build upon a promising freshman season that saw him catch 28 passes for 457 yards and two touchdowns. Instead, despite a strong start in the season opener against Notre Dame that featured six catches for 111 yards and a touchdown, the 6’3, 189-pounder faded from the rotation as the weeks went along.

In fact, a dropped would-be touchdown pass against the Fighting Irish was the first sign that Burt’s hands would begin to let him down, as his season was plagued by drops, though a thumb injury and hip injury likely also played roles.

He was benched for three games, including the final two games of the season, and didn’t catch passes against Kansas State, Baylor and Texas Tech.

On the season, Burt finished with 18 catches for 201 yards and that lone touchdown.

The fresh start under Herman could prove key for Burt, who will have to recover his confidence and show the solid hands that made him such a promising freshman two years ago.

If that happens, the ‘Horns could regain one of the most talented deep threats in the Burt, as he has a unique combination of size and speed for that role.